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Standard & Poor’s Upgrades Bond Rating for Hawaii County

November 20, 2008

Standard & Poor’s Upgrades Bond Rating for Hawaii County

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has upgraded the general obligation bond rating of Hawaii County from A+ to AA-. The upgrade applies to approximately $50 million of general obligation debt that will be used to fund a variety of capital improvements over the next two years. The new rating reduces the interest rate that Hawaii County pays for its bonds.

According to Standard & Poor’s research report, “The rating action reflects, in our opinion, the county’s build up of strong reserve levels and good financial management practices, which should help it manage through the current difficult economic cycle. The rating also reflects the county’s diversifying local economy with low unemployment levels; strong property tax base; track record of increasing property tax rates when required, to stabilize financial performance; and low overall debt levels.”

Frank Lauterbur, Managing Director of Merrill Lynch & Co. termed this upgrade “…no small feat in a down economic environment. It’s a real testament to the management, hard work and strong results shown by the County over the past few years.” He stated that this should give a nice boost to our marketing efforts of the bonds.

According to Mayor Harry Kim, “We are naturally very pleased with our second upgraded bond rating in four years. It is certainly a reflection of the County’s ability to remain financially sound in tough economic times. I also feel very proud of the way our County employees have become better managers of our limited financial resources, while continuing to deliver needed services to Hawaii’s people. Our new rating is partly the result of establishing adequate reserves, increasing annual fund balance carryover, and reducing property tax delinquencies.”

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