MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Moody’s Investors Service again issued its top rating, AAA, of Morris County’s financial stability in its review of county guaranteed bonds offered through the Morris County Improvement Authority for various projects.
“The AAA rating reflects the county's substantial tax base, strong and diverse economy, healthy reserve levels, and modest debt burden. The rating also reflects a long trend of strong, proactive financial management,” Moody’s stated in a report Jan. 12. “Although the pandemic has had a negative impact throughout the state, Morris County's credit quality has not been impacted. The county created a COVID-19 Strategic Planning Committee which meets regularly and has implemented a variety of measures to reduce the impact. The county's largest revenue, property taxes, is guaranteed by its constituent municipalities.”
The rating agency also listed the county’s financial outlook as being stable.
Savings for Taxpayers
The AAA rating benefits everyone in Morris County by allowing the county to take advantage of the best possible interest and financing rates when borrowing or bonding is needed for major projects, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. The rating permits the county and local government agencies within Morris County to take advantage of those low bonding and borrowing rates. It is akin to having an exceptional personal credit rating because it reflects the ability of the county to meet its financial commitments. Obligations that are rated AAA are determined to be the highest quality, with the lowest credit risk.
“As noted by Moody’s, maintaining the highest AAA credit rating for Morris County is a direct result of proactive measures the county commissioners took in responding to the pandemic,” said Morris County Commissioner John Krickus. “We are pleased to deliver $2.1 million in savings for taxpayers in Morris County, as well as Chester and Rockaway boroughs.”
The commissioner was referring to the estimated $2.1 million Morris County taxpayers saved under a refinancing plan announced in September involving multiple bonds issued through the Morris County Improvement Authority. The savings will be realized over the life of various bonds issued within the past ten years for multiple Morris County and local projects. The refinancing secured lower financing rates – similar to taxpayers refinancing a home mortgage.
Since the Improvement Authority was established in 2002, the agency has provided towns, school districts and the county itself with innovative and cost-effective methods of funding public projects while saving tax dollars. Through the authority, towns have been able to borrow under the umbrella of Morris County’s AAA bond rating to finance local projects, such as purchasing equipment and vehicles or constructing local facilities, at lower costs, thereby reducing the property tax burden on their residents.
Moody’s report continued to reference Morris County’s formation of a COVID-19 Strategic Planning Committee to continuously assess the pandemic impact on county revenues and functions, and to plan for contingencies as the pandemic continues.
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