Morris County Earns AAA Financial Ratings for 48th Consecutive Year
Published on May 31, 2023
Moody's and S&P’s Premium Assessments Continue
Morris County’s financial stability again has been given the highest confidence ranking by Moody’s Investor Services and Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings, both of which issued their AAA ratings of the county finances for the 48th consecutive year.
“The AAA issuer rating reflects the county's strong and diverse economy, very high wealth and resident income, healthy reserve levels, and exceptionally strong, proactive financial management,” Moody’s concluded in an analysis released May 23.
S&P’s May 30 summary also projected a positive outlook.
“The county's tax base continues to experience steady growth due to various ongoing private and public development projects, including the expansion of its commercial and retail sector, as well as new housing developments. The county has consistently maintained positive finances during the past three fiscal years because of management's conservative budgeting. For fiscal 2022, expenses came in on target while revenue, such as interest income and miscellaneous revenue, exceeded the budget,” S&P concluded.
The AAA ratings benefit everyone in Morris County
The annual ratings assignment for 2023 involved a review of approximately $21.5 million in General Obligation Bonds being issued by the county, consisting of $17.1 million in general improvement, $427,000 in parks and $4 million in bonds for the County College of Morris.
“The importance of maintaining our AAA rating cannot be underestimated. It is very much like a personal credit rating, and all Morris County taxpayers reap the rewards. When the county needs to borrow funding for important infrastructure projects for our community, taxpayers are spared hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest fees. It means a tax break for everyone, from small business owners and working families maintaining their homes, to large corporate employers and major property owners,” said Deborah Smith, chair of the budget committee for the Morris County Board of County Commissioners.
S&P: Morris County’s ranking higher than federal government.
“Morris County is eligible for a rating higher than the sovereign because we think the county can maintain strong credit characteristics relative to the nation in a stress scenario. … The county has predominantly locally derived revenue with independent taxing authority and treasury management from the federal government,” S&P concluded.
Moody’s Findings on Morris County’s Credit Strength
- Strong and stable finances
- Large, diverse and wealthy economy with stable employer presence
- Exceptionally strong, proactive financial management
Summary of S&P’s Findings on Morris County
- Very strong local economy.
- Historically stable budgetary performance that has resulted in continued reserve improvement “due to conservative budgeting, supported by a strong revenue base.”
- “Very strong management with strong financial-management practices, policies.” Highlights include:
- “long-term formal financial and capital-improvement planning”
- “formal investment and debt-management policies”
- “reserve policy that limits unreserved fund balance to no less than 12% of expenditures.”