By Michelle Guffey

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON The financial ratings for Bell County have been issued by two financial agencies and the outcome is good.

County Judge Jon Burrows presented the report to the Bell County Commissioners Court on Monday. The report, issued by Standard & Poors Rating Services and Moodys Investors Service, comments on the well-maintained financial operations and the modest debt profile of Bell County.

We are blessed with a good tax rate, Burrows said.

Standard and Poors assigned a AA- rating to Bell County, and Moodys assigned its equivalent Aa3. Bell County is two steps away from having a AAA rating. Only Travis and Dallas counties have AAA ratings.

It will take several more years to get to AAA at the current growth rate, said Gary Kimball of First Southwest Company Financial Advisors.

Standard and Poors report stated that the rating for Bell County reflected a diversifying economic base, strong financial position and moderate debt burden. The countys direct debt burden is a low 0.6 percent of market value.

Moodys report stated the rating actions are indicative of the countys healthy tax base expansion supported by Fort Hood and a modest debt profile.

Moodys agreed with Standard and Poors assessment that the countys debt is a low 0.6 percent.

In other action, the court approved:

n installation of a yield sign at the intersection of Francis Lane at Shanklin Road and to install stop signs at the intersections of Cedar Oaks Circle at Moffat Road and at Frederick Lane at Cedar Ridge Park Road.

n the Plat for Leighty Subdivision, a one-lot, 5-acre subdivision fronting onto Farm-to-Market 1237, in the city of Troy.

n authorized the county judge to sign the FEMA Community Partner Memorandum of Agreement. The agreement states that the county and municipality acknowledge that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be coming in to perform an upgrade on flood plains.

n an interlocal agreement between Bell County, Killeen and Temple regarding the 2005 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program Award.

n submission of a Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program application in support of the Bell County Crime Coalition. The grant is a little over $14,000 and takes effect in July.

n a memorandum of agreement with BellNet, Inc., regarding usage of portal software and Web site hosting for Bell County HELP Centers in Temple and Killeen.

n an order authorizing the issuance of Bell County Public Property Finance Contractual Obligations, Series 2005, in the principal amount of $3.635 million for the purchase of road and bridge equipment. The money would buy between 56 and 66 pieces of equipment that will last 10 years. The debt will be paid back in half that time.

n adoption of an order authorizing the issuance of Bell County Limited Tax Refunding Bonds, Series 2005, in the principal amount of $6.535 million. This will refinance an existing debt at a lower interest rate that will result in a savings of approximately $200,000.

n authorized the county auditor to sell old radios and radio equipment on eBay.

The Commissioners Court presented the Bell Countys Auditor office the Government Finance Office Association Award for Bell Countys comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year ended in Sept. 30, 2003. The county auditors office has received this award for 24 consecutive years.

Contact Michelle Guffey at

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