Bloomberg News

Maryland’s Howard County Plans $194 Million Tax-Exempt Offering

October 19, 2011

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Maryland’s Howard County, the third- richest in the U.S. by median household income, plans to sell about $194 million of general-obligation bonds next week through competitive bids.

The sale would be the county’s second this year, after a $160 million issue in February, the month it typically sells, Nicole Hogue, a fiscal manager in Howard’s Finance Department, said from Ellicott City.

The municipality of about 287,000 residents is selling again in part to help pay for its purchase of a building in Columbia, Maryland, she said. Howard had a median household income of about $101,000 in the 2005-to-2009 period, trailing only the counties of Loudoun and Fairfax in Virginia, according to the Census Bureau.

Moody’s Investors Service, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings all give the bonds their top credit ratings, marking the county’s 14th straight year with the highest grade, according to the Howard website.

“Historically strong financial management” and a “stable and wealthy economic base” drove the rating, Fitch said in a statement.

“Howard County’s bonds will be very well received because they have great credit,” said Linda Ginty, a senior managing consultant at Public Financial Management Inc. who is the financial adviser for Howard County.

‘Still Volatile’

“The market is great right now. Rates are low, though it is still volatile,” she said from Ellicott City.

Yields on AAA rated 10-year municipal bonds have declined 15 basis points, or 0.15 percentage point, this week to 2.42 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Rates have dropped for four straight days, the longest slide in five weeks.

About half of the proceeds from the county’s bond sales usually go toward schools, Hogue said. For this issuance, 17 percent will be allocated for education, she said. The county provides all local government services and has no incorporated municipalities.

--Editors: Mark Tannenbaum, Jerry Hart

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Chappatta in New York at bchappatta1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net


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