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Ocean County Maintains ‘AAA’ Bond Rating

The Ocean County Administration Building, Toms River, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The Ocean County Administration Building, Toms River, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Ocean County officials this week touted the continuation of the county’s triple-A bond rating as a sign of good budgetary management.

The rating ultimately means the county’s bond interest rate will be the lowest possible, saving taxpayer dollars in debt service. The rating, by Moody’s Investors Service, was released Tuesday. It is the third year in a row that the county was awarded the AAA rating.

“This is not the Board of Freeholders saying we are doing a good job financially,” said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who has shepherded the county’s budget for many years. “This is one of the leading financial and investment firms in the world saying we are doing a good job. Essentially, this is our financial report card and I am happy to report we got straight A’s.”

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In issuing the report, Moody’s complimented the county for its “modest debt burden, strong recovery from Hurricane Sandy and significant liquidity in outside trust funds.”

Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said the AAA rating is even more significant because the county was able to maintain the grade following the devastation and decrease in the tax base caused by Sandy.

“Our strong financial position allowed us to help our municipalities recover from the storm,” Vicari said. “This is a testament to the strong financial leadership shown by Freeholder Bartlett.”

The County will immediately see the benefit of Moody’s rating when it sells $36.15 million in general improvement bonds and $3 million in capital improvement bonds for Ocean County College.

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

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

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