Kewaunee County bond rating upgraded
The Kewaunee County board meeting Tuesday night began on a high note as county supervisors learned that the county’s credit rating was upgraded to an AA- with a stable outlook.
‘Look what a difference a year makes,” Scott Feldt, county administrator, told the board.
Feldt was referring to a letter from S&P Global Ratings that the county received on May 9 based on its 2014 Financial Report, that had moved up the county’s bond rating two steps. A year ago, the county received a rating from Moody’s based on its 2013 Financial Report of A2 with a negative outlook.
Kewaunee County Finance Director Paul Kunesh attributed the improved rating to increased cash and fund balances, particularly in the Solid Waste, Human Services and Highway Enterprise funds in 2014 compared to 2013, as well as debt levels that remain low at 15 percent of debt limit. He also said the new rating was due to financial policies that had been put in place and were in process.
As a result, cash advances from the General Fund have declined, resulting in a higher unassigned fund balance in the General Fund, Kunesh said.
The improved rating allows the county to refinance its existing debt of $4.28 million at a lower 2 percent interest rate, saving $545,131 in interest payments over nine years, according to Feldt. The debt is the remaining balance borrowed by the county in 2007 to remodel the courthouse and improve the land fill.
Acting on the new rating from S&P, the County Board unanimously approved a resolution to authorize the issuance and sale of $4.28 million in general obligation refunding bonds with the remaining debt scheduled to be paid for by 2026.
The board also unanimously approved the Kewaunee County Sexual Offender Residency Ordinance, which will prevent violent sex offenders from other counties from relocating to Kewaunee County after they are released from treatment or jail in another county.
In other business, County Supervisor Lee Luft told the board that in response to a recent report of 11 wells that were contaminated with salmonella or rotavirus, 250 letters were sent out by the county health department to property owners with wells who lived within a half-mile of each of the contaminated wells urging them to have their wells tested..
He noted that that only 80 of the property owners had elected to have their wells tested for free by the DNR.
County supervisors need to spread the word that if a well is found to be contaminated, it does not mean that the property owner is required to dig a new well, Luft said. He expressed concern that people were afraid of having their wells tested because they did not want to be forced to drill a new well, which can often cost more than $10,000. He said that there were many other less costly ways to fix a contaminated well.
Supervisor Charles Wagner also noted that the names and addresses of all residents who have their wells tested and the results are kept confidential. Even the County Board does not have access to that information, he said.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Kewaunee County bond rating upgraded