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Author: 
The Brownsville Herald

Cameron County revenue and tax bonds have been assigned a “AA minus” rating with a “stable” outlook by Fitch Ratings agency. The county’s $131 million in limited tax bondsalready had a AA minus, and Fitch in its latest report affixed the same rating to $4.5 million in revenue and tax bonds for the SH 550 connector project.

Those bonds are scheduled for sale during the week of April 6, proceeds from which will be used to le complete construction of the SH 550 project.

In a report released March 24, Fitch said it based its rating in part on increasingly stable county finances thanks to “improved cost controls and revenue enhancements.” This follows a period of weakened finances due to declines in some non-property tax revenues and increasing expenditures for public safety, the agency said. The rating is also based partly on county administration’s “willingness to raise revenue” — specifically through increasing its operations and maintenance levy in recent years to help balance financial operations and add to reserves. 

Fitch noted that 60 percent of the county’s revenue base is supported by property taxes, though revenue also comes from international bridge tolls and from fees charged to the federal government for housing federal inmates. 

The rating agency said that “aggressive budgeting of these volatile revenues” helped lead to structural imbalances prior to fiscal year 2011, though balance has since been restored.

The report noted that the county had posed two years of positive financial results since restoring structural balance in 2011, while unaudited results from fiscal year 2014 are also positive, with a projected operating surplus of $4.8 million.

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