Budget Year / Version:

Mission Statement

This section provides budget data for the repayment of general obligation bond issues, and other long- and short-term financing for public facilities, equipment, and infrastructure in the Debt Service Fund for all tax supported County agencies (Montgomery County Government, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery County Public Schools, and Montgomery College), as well as other associated costs. Non-tax supported debt repayment related to the Montgomery Housing Initiative Property Acquisition Fund and Water Quality Protection bonds are also included.


Budget Overview

The total recommended FY19 Operating Budget for Debt Service is $429,074,110 an increase of $20,840,440 or 5.1 percent from the FY18 approved budget of $408,233,670. This amount excludes $56,750 in debt service which is appropriated in non-tax supported funds.

General Obligation Bonds

General obligation (G.O.) bonds are issued by the County to finance a major portion of the construction of long-lived additions or improvements to the County's publicly-owned infrastructure. The County's budget and fiscal plan for these improvements is known as the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) and is published separately from the Operating Budget and Public Services Program. Currently, G.O. bonds are anticipated to fund approximately 36.9 percent of the County's capital expenditures (excluding WSSC) for the six years of the Recommended FY19-24 CIP program. The bonds are repaid to bondholders with a series of principal and interest payments over a period of years, known as Debt Service. In this manner, the initial high cost of capital improvements is absorbed over time and assigned to citizens benefiting from facilities in the future, as well as current taxpayers. Due to various Federal, State, and local regulations, interest rates are lower than in the private sector.

"General obligation" refers to the fact that the bonds are backed by the "full faith and credit" of the County and its general revenue stream. In addition, the Montgomery County Charter provides that the Director of Finance must make debt service payments even if the Council fails to provide sufficient appropriation. County G.O. bonds are exempt from Federal taxes and also from State taxes for citizens of Maryland. Finally, the County strives to maintain its total and projected outstanding debt and debt service within certain financial parameters according to the County's fiscal policy. Thus, these financial instruments provide strong advantages in both safety of repayment and investment return for certain categories of investors.

Section 305 of the County Charter requires the County Council to set Spending Affordability Guidelines (SAG) for the CIP. The guidelines are related to how much the Council believes the County can afford, rather than how much might be needed. The guidelines apply to County G.O. bonds and must specify the total G.O. debt issued by the County that may be planned for expenditure in the first and second year and approved under the six-year CIP. On October 3, 2017 the County Council approved SAG limits at $330.0 million for FY19, $320.0 million for FY20 and $1,860.0 million for the FY19-24 period. On February 6, 2018, the County Council confirmed the guidelines set on October 3, 2017,

Debt Service Program

The annual debt service obligation of all outstanding G.O. bond issues, long- and short-term lease payments, other long-term debt, and projections of certain related expenditures constitute the total Debt Service budget for FY19. When a bond-funded facility supports an activity funded by one of the County's Enterprise funds, the debt service is appropriated in that Enterprise fund operation.

Montgomery County G.O. bonds are budgeted in specific categories for specific purposes: General County (Police, Corrections, Human Services, Libraries, General Government, and other miscellaneous purposes); Roads and Storm Drains; Public Housing; Parks (including land and development for M-NCPPC regional and Countywide use parks); Public Schools; Montgomery College; Fire Tax District; Mass Transit Fund; Recreation Fund; Parking Districts; and Solid Waste Disposal Fund. A separate appropriation is made for the General Fund or a special fund (e.g., Fire Tax District, Mass Transit, and Recreation) as appropriate. These appropriations include debt service for G.O. bond issues outstanding and other long-term and short-term financing.

Certain other expenditures and revenues are included in Debt Service budget calculations. The total Debt Service budget consists of principal and interest on the bonds and other long-term and short-term financing obligations. Bond anticipation notes (BANs)/commercial paper are short-term capital financing instruments issued with the expectation that the principal amount will be refunded with long-term bonds. In the meantime, interest costs are incurred, usually at lower rates than with more long-term financing. Cost of issuance includes the legal, administrative, and production cost of rating, issuing, and selling bonds, BANs/commercial paper and short- and long-term lease obligations as well as financial advisory services. Funding sources which offset the General Fund requirement for Debt Service may include premium on bonds issued. The special funds will fund the debt service appropriation via a transfer from individual special funds to the Debt Service Fund.

The County issued Series 2017D Bonds to "crossover-refund" the outstanding Series 2009 Build America Bonds. Prior to the crossover date of November 1, 2019, funds will be held by a trustee to pay debt service on the refunding bonds.

FY18 Estimated Debt Service

FY18 estimated general obligation debt service, lease and other long-term debt expenditure requirements for tax-supported funds total $386.5 million which is lower than the budget of $394.3 million primarily due to deferrals in some lease financing, and actual interest rates that were lower than budget.

FY19 Recommended Debt Service Budget

The FY19 Debt Service budget is predicated on a base of existing debt service requirements from past bond issues (through November 2017) plus the following:

• A fall 2018 (FY19) issue of $330.0 million at an interest cost of 5.5 percent for 20 years with even principal payments (fall bond issues are expected to continue through FY24).

• Interest expense based on an anticipated average BANs/commercial paper balance of $375.0 million during FY19.

• Other short- and long-term financing obligations displayed in a chart at the end of the section.

The Debt Service assumptions discussed above result in a total FY19 Debt Service requirement for tax supported funds of $429.1 million, which is a 5.1 percent increase from the FY18 budget of $408.2 million. The General Fund appropriation requirement is $331.7 million, or 3.7 percent more than the budgeted FY18 amount of $320.0 million. A schedule detailing debt service principal and interest by major fund is included at the end of the chapter.

Public Services Program

The six-year Public Services Program for Debt Service is predicated on the bond issue requirements in the Recommended CIP, adjusted for inflation, and implementation of the capital program at a projected 100.0 percent for FY19-FY24. An estimated interest cost of 5.5 percent is budgeted for the fall 2018 (FY19) issue. Projected interest rates for bond issues for FY19 through FY24 are based on market expectations for coupon rates, which drive actual debt service costs. Under these projections and assumptions, tax-supported debt service will increase from $413.4 million in FY19 to $466.0 million by FY24 with the General Fund revenue requirement growing from $331.7 million in FY19 to $399.2 million by FY24.

Capital Improvements Program Impact On Operating Budget

Debt Service Requirements

Debt service requirements are the single largest impact on the Operating Budget/Public Services Program by the CIP. The Charter-required CIP contains a plan or schedule of project expenditures for schools, transportation, and infrastructure modernization, with estimated project costs, sources of funding, and timing of work over a six-year period. Each bond issue used to fund the CIP translates to a draw against the Operating Budget each year for 20 years. Debt requirements for past and future bond issues are calculated each fiscal year, and provision for the payment of debt service is included as part of the annual estimation of resources available for other Operating Budget requirements. Debt service expenditures take up fiscal capacity that could be diverted to improved services as well as tax bill containment. As Debt Service grows over the years, increased pressures are placed on other PSP programs competing for scarce resources.

The County Council adopts Spending Affordability Guidelines for the Capital Budget based on criteria for debt affordability. These criteria are described in the County's Fiscal Policy and provide a foundation for judgments about the County's capacity to issue debt and its ability to retire the debt over time. Debt capacity evaluation also focuses on other factors which impact the County's ability and willingness to pay current and future bond holders. Debt obligations, which include G.O. debt service plus other short- and long-term commitments, are expected to stay manageable. Maintaining this guideline ensures that taxpayer resources are not overextended during fiscal downturns, nor are services squeezed out over time due to increased debt service burdens. The Debt Capacity chart is displayed at the end of this section. The chart displays the debt issues for the six years which are the basis of the G.O. bond-funded portion of the Recommended FY19-24CIP. Annual bond-funding requirements (on which future debt issue projections are based) are based on summations of projected bond-funded expenditures identified by project, amount, and year. The total programmed bond-funded expenditures for each year and for the CIP period are then adjusted to assist in estimating annual bond issue requirements. Adjustment factors include inflation, project implementation rate, commitment of County current revenues (PAYGO) as an offset against bond requirements, and a set-aside for future unprogrammed projects. The resulting bond requirements are then compared to planned bond issue levels over the six-year period. It is most critical that debt funding of the CIP be within projected bond issue requirements for the first and second years and for the six years, and the County Executive's Recommended FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program meets that requirement. The General Obligation Bond Adjustment chart reflecting the Executive's proposals for the Recommended FY19-24 CIP is included at the end of this section.

Debt Limit

The County's outstanding general obligation debt totals $2,879,265,000 as of June 30, 2017. The allocation of outstanding debt to government programs and functions is displayed in a chart at the end of this section.

The Annotated Code of Maryland, Article 25A, Section 5(P), authorizes borrowing funds and issuance of bonds up to a maximum of 6 percent of the assessed valuation of all real property and 15 percent of the assessed value of all personal property within the County. The legal debt limit as of June 30, 2017, is $11,257,427,051 based upon the assessed valuation $177,495,353,017 for all real property and $4,051,372,468 for personal property. The County's outstanding general obligation debt of $2,879,265,000 plus outstanding short-term commercial paper of $500,000,000 is 1.86 percent of assessed value, well within the legal debt limit and safely within the County's financial capabilities. A comparison of outstanding debt to legal debt limit is displayed in a chart at the end of this section.

Additional information regarding the County's outstanding general obligation debt and revenue bond debt can be found in the Debt Service Program Direct Debt for Fiscal Year 2017 (Debt Service Booklet). Schedules which display the allocation of outstanding debt to government programs and functions, debt service requirements for bond principal and interest, and payment schedules for paying agents can also be found in the Debt Service Booklet at the following link: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Finance/financial.html

Leases and Other Debt

Long-term leases are similar to debt service in that they are long-term commitments of County funds for the construction or purchase of long-lived assets. They are displayed and appropriated within the Debt Service Fund. Short-term financing, where the payments represent a substantial County commitment for the acquisition of assets which have a shorter life, but still result in a substantial asset, are also displayed and appropriated within this Fund.

Loan payments to HUD are related to a HUD Section 108 program loan that was received by the County. The County re-loaned the funds to Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC). Repayment of the loan will be made by HOC to the County through the Montgomery Housing Initiative (MHI) Fund. Transfers from the MHI Fund support the repayment shown in the Debt Service Fund.

The FY19 appropriations for the long- and short-term financing are displayed in a chart at the end of this section.

Other Long-Term Debt

Other long-term debt, (MHI - Property Acquisition Fund) includes the debt service costs, offset by a transfer from the MHI Fund, for the issuance of debt to create a property acquisition revolving fund which will significantly increase the County's capacity to acquire and renovate affordable housing. Long-term debt payments to acquire the Silver Spring Music Venue and Site II land are also included.

Commencing in FY12, Water Quality Protection bonds financed stormwater management requirements resulting from the new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS-4) permit requirements. To pay for the debt service, a transfer of funds from the Water Quality Protection Fund to the Debt Service Fund is required. The County has entered into lease-purchase agreements to finance energy systems modernization at various County buildings for which the debt service is covered by energy savings. Three of the leases qualified for Qualified Energy Conversation Bonds which provided a Federal Tax Subsidy.

Certain other types of long-term debt are issued by the County government and State-chartered agencies of the County, such as the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Housing Opportunities Commission, and the Revenue Authority. Examples are revenue bonds, backed by fees and charges to facility users; and agency bonds, backed by separate taxes, charges, other revenues, and/or the faith and credit available directly to these agencies. In some cases, the County government may make direct payments under contract to these or other agencies. Most of these other types of non-general obligation debt are not included in expenditure listings of this section.

Rating Agency Reviews

Montgomery County continues to maintain its status as a top-rated issuer of municipal securities. The County has the highest credit ratings possible for a local government, AAA from Moody's Investors Service, Inc. (since 1973), from Standard and Poor's (since 1976), and from Fitch Ratings Inc. (since 1993, the first year a rating was sought from Fitch). These high ratings are critical to ensure the lowest possible cost of debt to citizens. High ratings translate into lower interest rates and considerable savings over the 20-year interest payments on the bonds. The rating agencies also place great emphasis on certain operating budget criteria, the quality of government administration, legal or constitutional restrictions, and the overall condition of the local economy. All of these factors are considered evidence of both the ability and willingness of local governments to support public debt.

Special Taxing Districts

Three development districts have been created in accordance with Chapter 14 of the Montgomery County Code, the Montgomery County Development District Act, enacted in 1994. The West Germantown District was created by Council Resolution 13-1135, the Kingsview Village Center Development District was created by Resolution 13-1377, and the Clarksburg Town Center District was created by Resolution 15-87. The creation of the development districts allows the County to provide financing, refinancing, or reimbursement for the cost of infrastructure improvements necessary for the development of land in areas of the County of high priority for new development or redevelopment. Special assessments and/or special taxes may be levied to fund the issuance of bonds or other obligations created from the construction or purchase of infrastructure improvements.

The West Germantown Development District was created in an unincorporated area of Montgomery County, encompassing approximately 671 acres. Various transportation, local park, and sewer infrastructure improvements were constructed by developers and acquired by the County at completion for a total cost of $15.9 million. Special obligation bonds were issued in March 2002. In August 2014 the County issued $12.02 million of bonds to refund all of the outstanding bonds.

The Kingsview Village Center Development District was created in an unincorporated area of Montgomery County, encompassing approximately 29 acres. Various transportation improvements were constructed by developers and acquired by the County at completion for a total cost of $2.4 million. Special obligation bonds were issued in December 1999. In August 2014 the County issued $1.4 million of bonds to refund the outstanding 1999 Series bonds.

In October 2010, the County Council terminated the Clarksburg Town Center development district, therefore no bonds were issued and no special taxes or assessments were levied.

The County issues special obligation bonds to fund the acquisition of the completed infrastructure assets. The debt service on the special obligation debt is funded by an ad valorem tax and special benefit assessment levied on the properties located in the development district. The County Council, by separate resolution, sets the ad valorem tax and special benefit assessment at rates sufficient to pay the principal, interest, any redemption premium on the bonds, and administrative expenses. Revenues resulting from the ad valorem tax and special benefit assessed, and expenditures for the debt service on the special obligation bonds and administrative expenses, are accounted for in an agency fund, because the County has no obligation whatsoever for the indebtedness. The County acts only as a financing conduit and agent for the property owners and bondholders. In accordance with Section 20A-1 of the Montgomery County Code, the bonds or other obligations issued may not constitute a general obligation debt of the County or a pledge of the County's full faith and credit or taxing power.

In March 2010, the County adopted a new sector plan for the White Flint area of north Bethesda. This smart-growth master plan attempts to transform the area into a pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented, urban setting that is expected to be a leading economic engine for the County. To successfully implement the sector plan, the County adopted legislation (Bill 50-10, December 2010) to create a new special taxing district in the White Flint area, along with an implementation strategy and a list of the infrastructure necessary to successfully implement that strategy (Resolution No. 16-1570, December 2010). Bill 50-10 creates the White Flint Special Taxing District (Chapter 68C of the County Code) in order to collect ad valorem tax revenues that will provide a stable, reliable and consistent revenue stream to fund the transportation infrastructure improvements identified in the implementation and strategy resolution, by paying for the bonds authorized by the legislation.

Budget Trends
Program Contacts

Contact Jacqueline Carter of the Department of Finance at 240.777.8979 or Christopher Mullin of the Office of Management and Budget at 240.777.2772 for more information regarding this department's operating budget.

Related Links
Budget Summary
Salaries and Wages0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Employee Benefits0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Debt Service Personnel Costs0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Debt Service G.O Bonds348488660.00369855550.00 366115975.00 389165690.005.2
Debt Service Other25622652.0024424110.00 20386340.00 24258310.00-0.7
Debt Service Expenditures374111312.00394279660.00 386502315.00 413424000.004.9
Full-Time0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Part-Time0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
FTEs0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Federal Grants5624450.005598670.00 5660650.00 5359380.00-4.3
Investment Income76713.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Miscellaneous Revenues51940.001033870.00 3495581.00 5637100.00445.2
Other Intergovernmental65494.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Premium on General Obligation Bonds11421071.0016230640.00 17648910.00 20724940.0027.7
Debt Service Revenues17239668.0022863180.00 26805141.00 31721420.0038.7
Salaries and Wages0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Employee Benefits0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Debt Service - Non-Tax Supported Personnel Costs0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Debt Service Other13347406.0013954010.00 13354010.00 15650110.0012.2
Debt Service - Non-Tax Supported Expenditures13347406.0013954010.00 13354010.00 15650110.0012.2
Full-Time0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Part-Time0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
FTEs0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Total Expenditures387458718.00408233670.00 399856325.00 429074110.005.1
Total Full-Time Positions0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Total Part-Time Positions0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Total FTEs0.000.00 0.00 0.000.0
Total Revenues17239668.0022863180.00 26805141.00 31721420.0038.7
Additional Documentation