Mecklenburg County must get a better handle on how much it borrows to pay for construction projects, or it risks losing its top credit rating, county officials said Thursday.
A lower rating would make it more expensive for the county to sell future debt, because it would face a higher interest rate.
To help address the issue, commissioners agreed to push back an upcoming sale of up to $253 million in bonds to pay for construction projects approved by voters in past bond referendum. The package includes money for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Central Piedmont Community College.
Under the plan approved Thursday, the county won't borrow the money until administrators learn how big the 2009-10 budget will be, and how much new debt the county can afford.
Commissioners also voted not to authorize any new construction projects in the next budget year, and to review priorities of $1.1 billion in projects that have already been approved.
The county currently has the coveted AAA rating for its voter-approved debt, and a similar top rating for its other bonds.
But credit agencies said in their most recent reports that the county was “teetering on the verge of being downgraded” because of its high debt load, said County Manager Harry Jones.