Moody's Investors Service has upgraded Pierce County, WA's issuer and limited tax general obligation (LTGO) ratings to Aaa from Aa1, with a revised outlook of stable. The upgrade in the issuer rating to Aaa reflects the county's strong regional economy, which includes the city of Tacoma and Port of Tacoma, and is projected to grow at a faster rate than the national average. The county's very strong financial position, supported by robust reserves and liquidity, revenue growth, and consecutive years of operating surpluses, also contributed to the upgrade. Although the general fund balance is expected to gradually decline due to one-time capital projects and higher operation costs, the county's finances are projected to remain healthy and in line with counties in the same rating category. Additionally, the county's leverage and fixed costs are considered modest, with moderate increases expected in the near term due to future debt plans.
The absence of a distinction between the county's issuer rating and its LTGO ratings highlights the strength and breadth of the county's full faith and credit pledge. The stable outlook reflects Moody's expectation that Pierce County's economy will continue to expand, benefiting from its favorable location in Puget Sound. This is expected to result in healthy reserves and growing resident wealth. The stable outlook indicates Moody's confidence in the county's ability to maintain its strong financial position and fulfill its financial obligations in the future.