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MARYLAND DOT $97.8 MILLION COUNTY TRANSPORTATION BONDS 'AA' BY FITCH -- FITCH FINANCIAL WIRE --

 NEW YORK, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Transportation of Maryland's $97.8 million county transportation revenue bonds Series 1993 are rated `AA' by Fitch. The bonds will sell through negotiation with a syndicate led by Legg Mason Wood Walker during the week of Nov. 8. The credit trend is stable. The department's `AA' county transportation bonds-first issue are affirmed.
 Bondholder protection is very strong, aided by a tax rate increase following recent softening in highway-related revenues that secure the bonds. The state comptroller withholds the current year's and next year's debt service requirements prior to allocating the revenues to the participants, effectively providing a rolling two-year reserve. Furthermore, additional issuance on behalf of a participant is restricted to at least 2.0 times (x) historic coverage of future maximum annual debt service.
 This issue is the first under new legislation. However, the new bonds' security is very similar to that of the prior county bond program. The new legislation clarifies that from a legal standpoint these bonds are county obligations and not state or Department of Transportation debt. From a practical standpoint, the bonds' security and debt service payment mechanism is the same as for county transportation bonds-first issue, the department's prior debt program for counties and Baltimore.
 Bonds are secured by participants' shares of highway user revenues, which consist of motor vehicle fuel taxes and fees, a portion of the motor vehicle tilting tax, certain vehicle registration fees, and a portion of the corporate income tax. After this refunding, annual debt service coverage will range from 2.6x in Cecil and Prince George's counties to 20.6x in Carroll County based on fiscal 1993 revenue.
 Nearly all bond proceeds will be used to refund nine bond issues sold under the prior program. Participants in the original bonds and this issue are Allegheny, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Prince George's, Saint Mary's, Queen Anne's, and Washington Counties and Baltimore City. A small amount, $385,000, will be used by Caroline County for local transportation projects.
 -0- 11/2/93
 /CONTACT: Amy S. Doppelt, 212-908-0514, or Claire G. Cohen, 212-908-0552, both of Fitch/


CO: Maryland Department of Transportation ST: Maryland IN: SU: RTG

CK -- NY076 -- 9731 11/02/93 14:48 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 2, 1993
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