La Plata County recently earned a bump in its credit rating from A- to A, strengthening the county's ability to borrow money in the future at lower rates.
Standard & Poor's, an independent credit rating agency, reviewed the county's finances in purchasing the former post office building at 1060 Main Ave.
In a report dated Dec. 23, the agency said the county's finances "continue to show what we consider very strong results over the last few fiscal years," driven by strong growth in property- and sales-tax revenue.
The agency said "three consecutive operating surpluses have increased the unreserved fund balance to 58.5 percent of operating expenditures in fiscal 2007 from 26.7 percent of operations in fiscal 2004."
Sales taxes are up 2.5 percent in fiscal year 2008, through November, and the county expects break-even operations for fiscal year 2008 and 2009, the agency said.
Kellie Hotter, chairwoman of the Board of County Commissioners, said the rating "is a reflection of our responsible and well-managed organization, our nationally recognized Finance Department and our conservative approach to budgeting. In these challenging economic times, this is an achievement that our entire community can take pride in."
The city of Durango had its rating improved form "A-" to "A," in November, said Finance Director Julie Brown.
"It definitely makes it cheaper for us to borrow money," Brown said Wednesday. "The better credit we have, the better interest rates we get."