Moody’s Investors Service again issued its top, AAA rating of Morris County’s financial stability in its review of $5.2 million in county guaranteed bonds offered through the Morris County Improvement Authority in connection with a Whippany Firehouse project.
“For the 46th straight year, and probably the toughest year, Morris County earned the AAA rating by being proactive in the face of the pandemic. Moody’s recognized our strong governmental and financial management, whereby Morris County delivers outstanding services while keeping county property taxes significantly lower than neighboring counties,” said Director Stephen Shaw of the Morris County Board of County Commissioners.
“The strategic planning taskforce was very important in Morris County’s comprehensive pandemic response, including our number one vaccination rate in the state, while maintaining county operations to save lives and livelihoods,” he added, referring to a taskforce that monitored economic impacts and planning early on in the pandemic.
Moody’s explained its assessment of Morris County finances in a report issued earlier today:
“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 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 Advisory 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.”
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.
Moody’s also rated Morris County with a stable outlook.
“The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the county’s financial position will remain strong over the near term and that the county will continue to benefit from its substantial and diverse tax base and above-average wealth levels.”
The bonds that were subject to the rating are being issued to currently refund the Improvement Authority’s County Guaranteed Governmental Loan Project Notes, Series 2020 issued by the Authority in the amount of $5,885,000 on August 3, 2020. They were originally issued to provide funds to make a loan and to purchase the Bond Anticipation Note (in 2019) of the Fire District #2 in the Township of Hanover, where the design and construction of a new firehouse on Fire District-owned property was financed.