Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

County to borrow $7.74 million for roads
Good rating means 2.2 percent interest on loan

by Chris Schultz

June 30, 2011

Elkhorn — Walworth County got a great rate on its recent promissory note and a pat on the back by Moody’s Investor Service.

The Walworth County Board unanimously approved borrowing $7.74 million for road repairs at its June 20 meeting. The money will go to resurfacing and doing some base work on about 26 miles of road in the northern part of the county around Lake Beulah and East Troy.

Work on that project has already begun using money borrowed earlier for road maintenance, said David Bretl, county administrator. But the $7.74 million borrowed by the county represents the anticipated cost of the repairs, he said.

The County Board also got some good news about its credit rating from its financial consultant, R.W. Baird.

The debt will be payable over 10 years at 2.23 percent annual interest, nearly a full percent below the anticipated rate, said Bradley Viegut, director of the RW Baird office in Milwaukee. BOSC Inc., a financial services company, won the bid for the county’s bonds over eight other banks and investment companies.

Viegut also said that Moody’s Investor Service gave the county an Aa1 financial rating, the second highest possible.

According to the Moody’s report, Walworth County’s total $48 million general obligation debt will carry the Aa1 rating. Moody’s said that the county’s debt was only 2 percent of its total debt limit.

The county’s strengths were “satisfactory reserve levels” and sound fiscal policies, according to Moody’s. It is also a favorably located tourist destination near three major metropolitan areas, Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison.

Moody’s reports it believes the county’s tax base will remain stable because of appreciation of property values, particularly those found around the county’s many lakes. The county’s financial strengths, in addition to tourism, include agriculture and light industry, the Moody’s report said.

Financial challenges facing the county are a multiyear trend of residential foreclosures and that it is heavily reliant on the tourism industry.

Bretl said he was very pleased by the Moody’s report.

B.R. Amon & Sons of Elkhorn is the general contractor doing the road work, said Shawn Crawford, county public works director. Road repair work started about a month ago, he said.

The three highways being repaired this year are:

- County Highway A, about 16 miles from the Rock County line to County Highway ES.

Crawford said most of the work on that highway is now done.

- County Highway ES, about 3.1 miles, from A east to East Troy.

- County Highway J, about 6.8 miles, from County Highway N just north of Troy Center to the county line near Mukwonago.

Crawford said that work on the project is moving well. “We’re ahead of schedule and under budget,” he said.