Posted Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
RATINGS AGENCIES NOTE COUNTY’S “WELL MANAGED FINANCIAL OPERATION’’
Morris County had its top-ranked Triple-A bond rating reaffirmed and it’s financial stability again ranked as better than the federal government, with a strong and stable financial outlook issued this month by Moody’s Investors Services, Inc., and Standard Poor’s, the nation’s two largest bond rating agencies.
The Triple-A rating, awarded to the county for the 42nd consecutive year, allows the county to take advantage of optimum interest and financing rates, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
Morris County will be able to almost immediately reap the benefits and savings of the Triple A rating when it issues $34.9 million of bonds for construction and equipment purchases at the County College of Morris, Morris County School of Technology, Central Park of Morris County, and for various road and bridge projects.
The county’s Triple A rating for this $34.9 million bond sale will cost Morris County taxpayers about $930,000 less in interest than a county with a Single A rating and roughly $$325,000 less than a county with a Double A rating.
“This is great news again for Morris County taxpayers because it allows us to get the best rates on the refinancing of general obligation bonds, saving our county a lot of money each year,’’ said Freeholder Christine Myers, chair of the Freeholder Board’s Budget Subcommittee.
“Even though the county has a Triple A history that dates to the 1970s, no one should take this top rating for granted. This is still big news and a real plus for our county,’’ Myers added.
Moody’s touted the county’s history of conservative budgeting, mixed with initiatives designed to improve the financial position of the county, as reasons for the top ranking. It also anticipates that the county’s tax base and finances will remain stable for the foreseeable future.
“The highest quality Triple A rating reflects the county’s substantial tax base, strong and diverse economy, well managed financial operations, healthy reserve levels, and modest debt burden,’’ Moody’s said in its report.
“Morris County general obligation bonds are eligible to be rated above the sovereign (federal government) because we believe the county can maintain better credit characteristics than the U.S. in a stress scenario,’’ said Standard & Poor’s.
Read the Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s reports at: https://morriscountynj.gov/transparency/finance/
Morris County has had a Triple-A rating since 1975. It was the first county government in New Jersey to obtain the prestigious rating and is only the 11th in the nation to achieve it.
The 2017 renewed Triple A ratings were made after a county finance team, comprised of three Freeholders, the County Administrator, Assistant County Administrator, County Treasurer, County Auditor, County Bond Counsel and County Financial Advisor, made presentations to the ratings agencies last month at the Morris County Public Safety Academy.
“It is extraordinarily difficult to achieve a Triple A rating,’’ said Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, a member of the Freeholders’ Budget Subcommittee. “The bond rating agencies are, in effect, signaling that our government and financial practices are exceptional and that our taxpayers are well protected.’’
“We are proud to continue a longstanding tradition of responsible government here in Morris County which provides effective services and programs to our county residents while being prudent about our spending and debt practices,’’ said Freeholder Deborah Smith, also a member of the Budget Subcommittee.
“I would like to acknowledge County Administrator John Bonanni and County Finance Director Joe Kovalcik for their excellent leadership, prudent approach to financial risk, and disciplined budgeting process, which facilitated the attainment of the Triple A bond rating,’’ she added.
A Triple A bond rating, in effect, means the county has exceptional credit worthiness because the county can easily meet its financial commitments. The county can get the lowest interest rates when borrowing because a Triple A rated government entity is viewed in the financial world of having the smallest risk of defaulting on its debt.
That equates to lower borrowing costs, which allows for lower costs to finance capital projects.