Baltimore County News
Will Anderson, Director, Baltimore County Economic & Workforce Development
The 3,100 acres at Sparrows Point are rapidly living up to their potential as one of the most important job generators in the region. What did Baltimore County do to plan for this next generation jobs opportunity?
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Tradepoint Atlantic CEO Michael Moore discuss the vision for bringing 10,000 jobs back to Sparrows Point. Get a first-hand look at this massive project, based on the work of the Sparrows Point Partnership, a business advisory group spearheaded by Baltimore County consisting of port officials and business, real estate, manufacturing, logistics and distribution executives.
“We want to have good middle skill jobs available that pay a decent wage and have great benefits,” says County Executive Kamenetz. “We are trying to create that next generation of job opportunity at Sparrows Point.”
Learn more about Tradepoint Atlantic: www.tradepointatlantic.com
Next Up Baltimore County explores what makes Baltimore County a great place to live and work. The show features interviews with local business leaders, entrepreneurs and educators and is produced by the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development. In addition to online access, Next Up runs on Baltimore County cable channel 25 at the following times: Monday, 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. Tuesday 1:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. Wednesday 9:00 p.m. Thursday 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m. Friday 1:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. Saturday 9:00 a.m., 6:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m. Sunday 9:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m.
Residents urged to visit the Towson landmark during the Olympics
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Debbie Phelps recently visited Towson’s Olympian Park as the nation prepares for the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro. Olympian Park is an open space in the heart of downtown Towson that honors Baltimore County athletes who have won medals in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The park features monuments that list the names and medal achievements of Baltimore County residents who have won Olympic medals and is located at 601 York Road, at the Towson Circle.
For information on all of the great attractions in Baltimore County, visit the County’s tourism website at Enjoy Baltimore County.
Baltimore County again earns triple-AAA bond rating
In a unanimous vote on July 12, the Board of Trustees of the Baltimore County Employees Retirement System (BCERS) reduced the assumed investment earnings rate used to determine the annual required level of funding for the retirement system by the County. The rate was reduced from 6.75% to 6.375% effective immediately. This action is part of a continuing effort by Baltimore County to ensure that employee pensions are adequately funded and will be there for employees when they retire.
The impact of this reduction in the valuation rate will occur in the FY2018 operating budget, when the County’s contribution to the retirement system is projected to increase by approximately $150 million based upon current information available from the system’s actuary.
Bond Sale tied to reduction in valuation rate
In its most recent bond sale on July 18, 2016, the County sold $150 million of taxable general obligation bonds at 3.07%. The $150 million will be added to the retirement fund, saving the fund enough money in future payments to more than offset the cost of the bonds (a net $169 million).
“With true interest cost of the bonds at 3.07% and an expected rate of return on assets of 6.375% through the life of the bonds, the projected benefit of the bonds is more than $169 million,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
“This is a good deal for employees and a good deal for County taxpayers,” added Kamenetz. “This is the fourth time that we have reduced the valuation rate in four years. We do so out of a commitment to our employees to ensure the safety and security of their pensions.”
In 2012, the County’s valuation rate stood at 7 7/8%.
Baltimore County bonds again earn triple-AAA rating
The bonds are once again rated triple-AAA by Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s, the three major rating agencies. Triple-AAA is the highest rating possible and only 42 counties in the nation achieve this prestigious rating.
“There is nothing more important to our employees than to know that their government is working to guarantee funding for their pensions,” said Second District Councilwoman and Council Chair Vicki Almond. “I am proud that Baltimore County takes this responsibility seriously and that we continue to earn AAA bond ratings from all three rating agencies. The Council is pleased to work collaboratively with the administration on these very important issues.”
Excerpts from the rating reports
Moody’s cites the County’s following credit strengths: “very large tax base that serves as a regional economic and employment center, strong demographic profile and stable reserve levels.” Moody’s added “The County’s currently healthy financial position has been supported by conservative budgeting practices and the maintenance of satisfactory fund balance levels…”
In its report Fitch stated that “…the rating reflects the County’s broad and diverse economy, modest long-term liability burden, and strong control over revenues.” Fitch emphasizes that “The County has exceptionally strong gap-closing capacity through a combination of budget control and reserve funding.”
Standard & Poor’s describes the County’s “very strong budgetary flexibility, very strong liquidity and very strong management,” indicating that “financial practices are strong, well embedded, and likely sustainable.”
“In Baltimore County we continue to demonstrate that government can be fiscally responsible and at the same time make significant investments in public education and public safety, protect the environment, provide a social safety net for the most vulnerable among us, and rebuild our aging infrastructure. It is not an either/or choice,” concluded County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Revised April 6, 2016