Essex County Bond Rating Upgraded to Aa1 with a Stable Financial Outlook
Essex County Executive DiVincenzo Guides Essex to 8th Upgrade
Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced that Moody’s Investors Services has improved Essex County’s bond rating to Aa1 with a Stable Financial Outlook. This represents an upgrade over the previous rating of Aa2 with a Positive Financial Outlook that was assigned in March 2016. Under DiVincenzo’s leadership, Essex County’s bond rating has been upgraded eight times, rising from junk bond status in 2003 when he entered office to being just one step away from the highest rating. (Another Wall Street agency, Fitch Ratings, has upgraded the County’s bond rating six times since 2003 to its current rating of AA-plus, which was a two-step jump in August 2016.)
“I always look at the bond ratings we receive from Wall Street as our report card because they come from independent professionals reviewing our finances. Over the last 15 years, we have aggressively monitored our revenues and expenditures; continually asked our directors, Constitutional Officers and agencies to reduce spending; initiated long-term planning to control our debt; and followed conservative budgeting practices to regain our financial strength,” DiVincenzo said. “Restoring our financial health has been the key ingredient to our transformation in Essex and has helped us weather the storm of the Great Recession, handle rising health care and pension costs, and avoid budget shortfalls,” he added.
In its seven-page report issued on Friday, August 11th, Moody’s stated the ratings upgrade was due to the strong management of the county, its conservative budget practices and its efforts to maintain a fund balance. “Essex County has a history of strong management and conservative budgeting,” it states. “The county’s financial position should strengthen further in the medium term as management continues to budget conservatively,” it adds. It noted that continuing to maintaining “positive financial operations leading to increases in current fund reserves” could lead to another upgrade in the future.