Ocean County garners top grades for finances

Bond rating houses – Moody’s Investor Services and Fitch Ratings – have again given Ocean County’s finances the highest grade possible.

“I am happy to announce that Ocean County has received a AAA bond rating,” said Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Kelly, who serves as liaison to the county’s Finance Department. “This is a report card given to the county by outside and independent agencies following a thorough review of the county finances.

“This comes with many benefits not the least of which is being able to receive the most favorable interest rates when we need to borrow money for projects that keep Ocean County government running,” he said. “Maintaining this bond rating has been a continuing goal of the Board of Freeholders. Very few government agencies have this rating and continue to maintain it.”

The County first achieved a AAA rating in 2010. This is the fourth consecutive year Moody’s has rated the county AAA with a stable outlook addendum.

“Every budget year, we work together making fiscal stability a priority leading to the preservation of this AAA rating,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines. “This speaks volumes about the experience of this Board of Freeholders and is a testament to the entire county government, each department working to make certain this county remains financially stable and able to withstand any emergencies that may come its way.”

According to Moody’s Investors Service, the rating reflects the county’s large, diverse tax base, modest debt and healthy finances.

“The rating also takes into account the strong rebound from Superstorm Sandy almost seven years ago,” stated Moody’s.

The County will immediately see the benefit of the rating when it sells $38.8 million in general improvement bonds and $3.4 million in capital improvement bonds for Ocean County College.

The county, like most government agencies, bonds larger capital improvement projects so the costs can be spread out over a number of years.

Kelly noted that the projects funded by the bond sales include the new Ocean County Road Department garage in Manchester Township, various road and bridge construction projects and extensive renovations to some of the buildings housing Ocean County government functions.

He noted the college bonds provide the funds for the new student center at the campus on Hooper Avenue, here.

“These projects are the bricks and mortar projects,” Kelly said. “They will be used for a very long time.”

The bond rating provides a number of benefits that help the county save money when it comes to financing capital projects, he said.

“This bond rating attracts a larger field of interested investors and provides greater competition resulting in savings from lower interest costs paid on the bonds,” Kelly said.

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