FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, December 4, 2020

Outlook Was Revised to Positive from Stable Because of Improvements in City Governance and Finances 

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) calls attention to the Moody’s credit opinion issued earlier this week of the City of Atlantic City’s finances. In the report, Moody’s Investors Service revised its outlook of the city to positive, citing continued strides in improving the city’s governance and finances and ongoing oversight of Atlantic City by the State of New Jersey. Moody’s is considered to be among the top three credit rating agencies in the country and ranks the creditworthiness of borrowers, including government entities such as municipalities.

“This positive outlook is remarkable considering it was issued in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession. It is a testament to the tremendous progress that DCA and the City have been able to make as a result of strong collaboration and financial discipline,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “We understand that much more work needs to be done, especially in the areas of economic diversification and addressing social challenges. However, credit reports like this provide validation that we remain on the right track.” 

Under the Municipal Stabilization and Recovery Act, the State, specifically DCA, is working to create financial stability for the City of Atlantic City by overseeing the city’s financial operations, annual budgeting, and financial planning and training. The Murphy Administration’s efforts have also focused on developing a diverse economy of family-sustaining jobs, strengthening local government, investing in the city’s youth, and enhancing quality-of-life for the city’s residents, understanding that these issues contribute to the city’s overall health and growth.

The Moody’s report listed the city’s credit strengths as:

  • State oversight that has materially improved governance,
  • Casino PILOT law that provides stable tax revenue from the gaming industry, and
  • Dramatically improved reserves and liquidity.

It noted the city effectively used federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to help local businesses and changed policies to permit greater use of outdoor dining and open containers of alcohol outdoors, which has benefitted the local restaurant industry during the pandemic.

The Moody's analysis also credited the City and State with making real efforts to diversify the economy and pointed to reports that developers are expressing more interest in Atlantic City and additional projects are expected to start soon. It further highlighted that the city expects to end 2020 with a substantial surplus of as much as $7 million; receives stable, reliable state aid; is collecting property taxes at or close to the norm during the pandemic; and continues to adjust its staffing levels and increase operating efficiencies to control expenditures.

DCA continues to execute the Atlantic City Implementation Plan, which identifies strategic recommendations for the city and includes targeted timeframes to complete the recommendations. The State also created the Atlantic City Restart and Recovery Working Group to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on Atlantic City. The group has been meeting regularly since July and plans to provide the Murphy Administration with recommendations in the near future.

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Tammori Petty
Gina Trish
Lisa Ryan
(609) 292-6055