Union County’s AAA bond rating was reaffirmed by Moody’s Investor Services last week. The County maintains its strong financial position looking forward through 2023 and beyond. A rating of Aaa is the highest a county government can achieve.
“The Aaa rating means a lower cost of borrowing, a strong business community and a hardworking county management team,” said Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados. “The work of the County Manager, Finance Department and Board of County Commissioners, who remain committed to ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars, is a true testament of this reaffirmed assessment. I am incredibly proud of the County’s ability to maintain these high financial ratings year after year.”
In its report, Moody’s noted that the Aaa rating reflects the county’s its strong economic and financial performance, sizeable and growing reserve position supported by fixed administrative policies and regulations, large and diverse tax base with stable employer presence and its proximity to New York City.
According to Moody’s, “Union County’s strong governance is reflected in a score of G-1. The county has built a deep bench of civil servants and outside professionals to implement its policy objectives. This, plus a combination of a strong state-wide institutional framework and highly conservative budgeting, has allowed the county not only to strengthen its finances but to do so while providing various forms of assistance to its local governments.”
Some of Union County’s notable accomplishments from 2022 were:
- A zero percent increase in Union County’s 2023 Budget for the 4th year in a row.
- Union County’s healthy surplus allowed them to fund and open up the first County-run certified lab in conjunction with Kean University for diagnostic testing and critical public health research during the pandemic.
- Tens of thousands of households within Union County have benefitted from their food distribution programs over the past two and a half years with over 18 million meals provided.
- In an environment where the average State Health Benefits increase for CY2023 is 21.6%, the County of Union was able enter into shared service agreements with Union College and the Vocational Technical High School for health benefits coverage under the County’s self-insurance plan as a cost-saving measure for both public education institutions.
- Union County is continuing to realize the savings from the shared services agreements with Essex County wherein we augmented service delivery for Juvenile Detention and Adult Corrections in 2019 and 2021.
- Understanding the need for long-term financial planning, the Union County Board of County Commissioners continuously streamlined County operations and reduced its pensionable obligations without sacrificing quality of service.
- In a climate where state and local governments throughout New Jersey are set to pay nearly 10% more for workers enrolled in the Public Employees’ Retirement System and the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, the County of Union announced its pension bills for 2023 are set to decrease by 0.74%.
“Each year, we work extensively to ensure we operate effectively and efficiently while still maintaining all of the programs and services for our residents,” said Commissioner Vice-Chairwoman Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded. “As Chairwoman of the County Commissioner Fiscal Committee, I am proud of our continued efforts to responsibly manage our County’s budget as we provide the many important needs of our residents, all while passing a zero percent tax increase for the fourth year in a row.”
“The county benefits from excellent transportation access including New Jersey Transit, major thoroughfares such as the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, the Port Elizabeth/Port Newark, and the Newark Liberty International Airport, which is partially located within the county. The pandemic had only a limited impact on the county’s economy. After spiking sharply, the unemployment rate has come down and as of March 2023 was 4.1%, slightly higher than the state (3.8%) and the national rates (3.6%).”
Among the benefits, maintaining an Aaa rating means the County can borrow money at the lowest available interest rates, saving tax dollars.