Ocean County Press Release

THANKS TO SOUND financial practices, Ocean County has maintained its highest possible AAA bond rating with a stable outlook, according to Moody's Investor Services and Fitch Ratings.

This is the third consecutive year Moody's has rated the county AAA with a stable outlook addendum. The county first achieved an AAA rating in 2010.

"This is not the Board of Freeholders saying we are doing a good job financially," said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. "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."

Bartlett, who is liaison to the County Finance Department and the Department of Management and Budget, said maintaining the top bond rating has been a continuing goal of the freeholders.

"Preserving this AAA rating 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," Bartlett said.

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.

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," Bartlett said.

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