FREEHOLD – All three major national financial rating agencies have assigned a triple-A rating to Monmouth County for the upcoming Monmouth County Improvement Authority (MCIA) governmental refunding bond, series 2014 and reaffirm that rating on all of Monmouth County’s outstanding debt while also assigning a stable outlook for the county.
“This is the 16th straight year the county has been awarded AAA status from Fitch, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Gary J. Rich, Sr., liaison to the county’s Finance Department. “Monmouth County continues to be top-rated in how it manages taxpayer money.”
Only a small percentage of counties throughout the United States have been granted AAA ratings from all three agencies, the highest rating, according to Craig R. Marshall, Monmouth County’s finance director.
Monmouth County is the only county in New Jersey and one of less than three dozen counties in the nation that can claim to have received the highest score from all three rating agencies.
According to Moody’s Investors Service, the AAA rating is a reflection of the county’s “strong financial operations with healthy reserve levels, substantial and diverse tax base and favorable debt position. The stable outlook reflects Moody’s expectation that wealth levels will stay above state and national norms, reserves will remain healthy and the county’s debt burden will continue to be nominal.”
Fitch said its AAA rating noted that among the county’s key rating drivers “conservative budgeting and financial management has allowed for relatively stable financial results over an extended period” and that “future borrowing plans are manageable and capital needs are largely related to discretionary projects” with carrying costs including debt service, pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) remaining “an affordable component of the budget.”
Standard & Poor’s rating reflected on the county’s budget reductions through improved efficiency and savings through attrition and its policy to include “the annual adoption of a five-year capital improvement program that identifies expenditures and related funding sources.” The report concluded that “the stable outlook on the long-term rating reflects our view of Monmouth County’s consistent financial performance and economy, which is it supported by strong management.”