Lake County Forest Preserves receives AAA bond rating for 19th straight year

Rating translates to savings for taxpayers when recreation district borrows money

LIBERTYVILLE – The Lake County Forest Preserves has been awarded the AAA bond rating by Moody’s Investors Service, one of the top credit rating agencies in the world.

The agency is nationally recognized by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for issuing credit ratings on the debt of public and private companies and on governments. The AAA rating, the highest possible, indicates an entity has an extremely strong capability to meet its debt obligations.

Of the 250 rated recreation districts nationwide, the Lake County Forest Preserves is one of only a handful rated AAA. In determining the top rating, the agency looked favorably at the forest preserves long-term financial planning as a relevant management policy.

“It is thanks to the conservative approach of the Board of Commissioners that our financial position has been and continues to be strong,” said Stephen Neaman, director of finance for the Lake County Forest Preserves.

The Lake County Forest Preserves received its first AAA rating from Moody’s in 2003 and has continuously maintained it ever since.

The importance of the AAA rating was highlighted Nov. 3 when the forest preserves sold a $14.9 million series of bonds to refinance $16.9 million of its outstanding bond issues. The sale resulted in about $1.6 million in savings in tax levies through 2033. Interest rates averaged just above 1.42%. The savings are worth about $1.5 million in today’s dollars.

“This excellent rate is due to the AAA rating,” Neaman said. ”Over the past eight years, refinancing these bonds has saved taxpayers about $26.5 million with the inclusion of this issue.”

”County residents will see these savings reflected on their property tax bills since debt repayment is not part of the operating tax levy of the forest preserves,” said Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves. “We will continue to plan for fiscally responsible decisions in an effort to determine the best course of action moving forward. The ultimate goal is to maintain the fiscal and environmental health of the Lake County Forest Preserves.”