FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2009

CONTACTSebastian D’Elia
Public Information Officer
908-527-4419

 

FITCH AND MOODY’S REAFFIRM UNION COUNTY’S STRONG BOND RATING;
COUNTY REFINANCES $77.4 MILLION DEBT, SAVING $4.35 MILLION

 

Elizabeth---The County of Union this past week refinanced $77.4 million in debt, saving $4.35 million over a period of nine years, Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella announced. This year, the County will realize approximately $1.58 million of that total amount in savings in the 2009 budget.

Chairman Mirabella noted the refinancing is an example of “entrepreneurial management”
which saves taxpayer money by taking advantage of lower interest rates offered under current market conditions.

“The refinancing frees up much needed funds during a tough recessionary period,”
Mirabella noted.

The County had previously sought to refinance part of its debt as early as 2007, but market conditions were volatile, postponing the measure. Finance Director Lawrence Caroselli noted
the County refinanced its debt from an average of 4.83 percent to 2.67 percent resulting in
the savings.

Fitch ratings assigned a ‘aaa’ rating to the refinancing, while Moody’s assigned aa1. Both ratings are among the highest attainable ratings, indicating Union County strong financial condition.

In a statement, Fitch noted the ‘aaa' rating reflects the “strength of the county's broad and diverse economy, strong tax base growth in recent years, low to moderate debt levels, rapid amortization of outstanding debt and manageable capital needs.”

Fitch’s statement further noted  “the county's strong financial management is largely reflected
in its ability to maintain adequate fund balance,” referring to its surplus, which stands at
$18.5 million.

Moody’s report stated “the rating reflects the county's substantial and diverse tax base, narrowed financial position and modest debt burden that is expected to remain manageable.”

Moody’s noted “the fiscal 2009 budget has not yet been introduced, but management has indicated that the budget will include modest growth primarily driven by increasing pension, insurance and debt service expenditures. Favorably, the budget is expected to conservatively estimate economically sensitive fees and to maintain the fund balance appropriation at
$18.5 million.”