Straight AAAs for Charleston County

Credit rating upgrade could mean better deals for taxpayers

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Charleston County is coming out on top in the credit ratings these days. With a recent upgrade from Fitch Ratings, the county earned a top-of-the-line AAA rating, putting it in the upper echelon of low-risk debtors.

Depending on how much you trust credit rating agencies these days, this could be good news. A higher credit rating means the district can pay lower interest on its debt obligations, which in turn means that less of your tax money goes toward paying off what is essentially the district's gigantic credit card bill.

During the 2012 fiscal year, the county plans to issue about $18 million worth of general obligation bonds to help pay for a new nursing building at Trident Technical College.

The other two credit rating agencies, Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's, had already bumped the county up to AAA in 2010 and 2006, respectively, so the upgrade from Fitch gives the county perfect scores across the board.

The City of Charleston, meanwhile, is rated AA+ by Fitch, and Charleston County School District is rated AA by S&P. And in case you hadn't heard, S&P knocked the United States down a peg to AA+ last month. South Carolina, meanwhile, kept its AAA rating from S&P, but with reservations about the stability of that rating.

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