Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J. -Mercer County's responsible fiscal management has once again paid off, said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes today upon receiving word that Standard & Poor's Rating Services has raised the county's general obligation (GO) debt rating to AA+ from AA.

"I'm very pleased that despite tough economic times everywhere, Mercer County has been able to not only maintain its level of fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers, but has been recognized by S&P for our discipline,'' said Hughes. S&P has declared Mercer County's outlook "stable,'' added Hughes.

S&P noted Mercer County's "steady financial performance and the maintenance of good reserve levels stabilized by ongoing tax base expansion." In its report, S&P cited as factors for its upgrade, Mercer County's diverse employment base, its five institutions of higher learning, its vast health care technology sector, its hosting of state government and its geographic position between New York and Philadelphia.

S&P also recognized Mercer County's solid property values, below average unemployment rate, and "manageable'' capital improvement plan. "Mercer County's long-term economic stewardship is based on our fiscal performance today.

"We know that we have a very expensive, mandated project - the new criminal courthouse - on the near horizon. What this rating news means for the taxpayer is that Mercer County will be able to secure the best financing at the very best rates, a reward for our diligence,'' said Hughes.

In fact, the county's $278 million budget that was adopted unanimously in April by the Board of Chosen Freeholders checked non-essential spending as Hughes called for belt tightening across the board and held the county tax rate to .43 per $100 of assessed value.