Posted Friday, November 1st, 2013

Morris County  has, for the 39th year in a row, received a AAA rating with a stable outlook from the nation’s two largest bond rating agencies.

Moody’s Investors Services, Inc., and Standard & Poor’s gave their highest government rating to the county after meeting with Morris County Freeholder Director Tom Mastrangelo, Freeholders Hank Lyon and JohnKrickus and several county staff who went into New York City and briefed the rating agencies on the county government’s economic health.

Mastrangelo, Krickus and Lyon are members of the Freeholder Budget Committee, which meets regularly throughout the year to develop a county budget.

Both rating agencies assigned AAA ratings to the county’s offering of $20.3 million in bonds to finance various county capital improvements.  The agencies also affirmed their AAA ratings to the county’s existing general obligation debt.

“Having the AAA rating is extremely important for our taxpayers,” said Freeholder Director Mastrangelo.  “The AAA rating means the county can borrow money for essential projects at the lowest possible interest rate.  As a result, more tax money is going for government services and less to pay interest.”

In its report, Moody’s said its AAA rating is based on several county strengths, including what the agency called Morris County’s “conservative financial management practices.”  The Moody’s report goes on to say its “highest quality AAA rating reflects the county’s strong and diverse tax base, well-managed financial operations, which have historically supported healthy reserve levels, and a modest debt burden.”

“Our careful planning and reasoned decision-making have allowed us to lower taxes, reduce spending and decrease debt, all while putting Morris County in a stronger financial position,” said Freeholder Lyon, chairman of the Freeholder Budget Committee.  “This AAA rating is a testament to our conservative governing approach.”

Standard & Poor’s said in its report that the factors it considered in issuing its AAA rating to Morris County included the county’s “strong management conditions with good policies and practices and a historically consistent ability to maintain balanced budgets.”

“We achieved the highest rating while delivering a nearly 2 percent cut in county taxes and a 2013 county budget that lowered spending,” said Freeholder Krickus.  “Those are some significant accomplishments.”

In giving the county bonds a “stable” rating outlook, Standard & Poor’s pointed to the county’s history of “strong-to-very-strong budget performance, budget flexibility and liquidity,” and the county’s maintenance of what the agency considers “manageable debt.”

MorrisCounty has maintained a AAA rating since 1975, when it became the first county government in New Jersey and only the 10th in the nation to achieve the prestigious rating.