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Passaic County Receives Highest Credit Rating in County History: "AA"

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Credits: TAP Staff
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Long-Term Financial Management and Low Overall Debt Cited As County Strengths

The Passaic County Freeholder Board today announced that Standard & Poor's Ratings Services (S&P) recently assigned its 'AA' credit rating to Passaic County (“County”) for its general obligation debt.  The ‘AA’ rating is the third highest the agency assigns and is an indication that S&P believes the County has a very strong capacity to meet financial commitments and is evidence of continued good financial management practices.

According to County Administrator Anthony DeNova, this is the first time S&P has rated the County and comes just one month after Moody’s Investor Service announced its own upgrade of the County’s credit rating.  The County expects this rating to continue to attract additional buyers in the bond markets.

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“We were confident we would receive a favorable rating from S&P because of the hard work and tough decisions we’ve made over the past seven years.  We identified a long-term financial plan and stayed the course throughout that time; even when it was unpopular or would have been just easier to cave into the pressure and divert from that plan,” said Freeholder Pat Lepore, budget committee chair. 

“Our hard work has resulted in the County receiving its highest credit rating. This rating represents real dollars and significant savings when we go to the market to finance capital projects for improvements to our infrastructure,” added Freeholder Lepore.

The S&P credit rating report cited the county has proactively sought shared service agreements and streamlined operations.

“It’s not as much about doing more with less than it is about making smart decisions to make our tax-payer dollars go further.  Those decisions have allowed us to reduce our workforce and eliminate unnecessary spending without reducing those essential services our public needs,” said Passaic County Freeholder Terry Duffy.  “We have implemented and will continue to explore the most efficient policies to deliver those services.”

Passaic County sought the rating to provide potential investors with a more accurate view of its improved fiscal affairs.  The ratings report released by S&P identified Passaic County’s strengths lie in its strong finances, marked by conservative budgeting; diversity of tax base and; low overall debt with a manageable five-year capital plan. In addition to the “AA” credit rating, S&P assigned a stable outlook to the County, a further indication of its sound financial practices and manageable debt levels.

“S&P affirmed the County's prudent financial management practices as it looked favorably that our annual budget is based on conservative assumptions,” stated Freeholder Director Bruce James.  “By implementing sound fiscal policies, decreasing the workforce to its lowest levels in 20 years through attrition, and ending budget gimmicks, we continue to save tax dollars and do more with less. This positive rating will lead to hundreds and thousands of dollars in taxpayer savings.”

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