SOMERVILLE, NJ - Somerset County’s triple-A bond ratings were reaffirmed in a recent sale of 15-year county college and general improvement bonds.
The interest rate on the July 20 sale was 2.33 percent. The successful bidder was Wisconsin-based Robert W. Baird & Co.
The sale included approximately $17 million in bonds for various county road and bridge projects, $1.5 million for major heavy equipment and trucks, $1 million for 911 Communications Center equipment, $1.2 million for salt domes, and about $1.4 million for various other bonded expenditures.
It also includes $2.9 million for Somerset County’s share for various capital repairs to buildings and classrooms at Raritan Valley Community College and construction of the college’s Workforce Training Center; under Chapter 12, the state pays half of these costs while Hunterdon County pays approximately 33 percent.
“We’re very pleased that both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s reaffirmed Somerset County’s long-held triple-A bond ratings,” said Freeholder Director Peter S. Palmer. “Our success in securing such a favorable interest rate is due once again to our sound financial management.”
Moody’s Investors Service predicted that “the county’s financial position will remain strong given management’s commitment to conservative budgeting and long-term planning.”
Listed by Moody’s as the county’s credit strengths are its substantial and diverse tax base with a large corporate presence, very high income levels, low debt burden and strong financial management practices.
Despite being almost 80 percent residential, Somerset County has a significant commercial sector, including pharmaceutical, telecommunications, financial and retail elements, according to the Moody’s report. There is ready access to New York City and the county overall has a 3.2-percent unemployment rate, lower than both the state and national levels.
Likewise, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services affirmed its triple-A rating on the Somerset County bond issue based on the county’s stable outlook and favorable debt position. S&P praised the county’s strong budgetary performance and flexibility and conservative budgeting practices, including its annually updated five-year financial projections, six-year capital improvement plan, and a cash management plan governing investments.