Despite stagnant state aid, constantly rising healthcare costs and a rough winter that doubled the previous year’s snow removal budget, North Bergen’s finances are in excellent shape as the township adopts its 2014 municipal budget. Under the stewardship of Mayor Nick Sacco and the Board of Commissioners, the township has reduced its annual debt service payments, relied less on the use of surplus and maintained a strong tax collection rate. All of these factors and more led to Moody’s Investor Service reaffirming North Bergen’s excellent Aa3 bond rating on March 19th, citing the township’s “prudent management team, strong financial position and market access.”
This strong bond rating, one of the highest in Hudson County, paid immediate dividends this week when the township executed a short term debt sale, or note sale, and received a winning bid from TD Securities with a miniscule interest rate of 0.206%. Essentially, this means that North Bergen was able to borrow $21 million to fund various capital projects and tax appeal refunds and pay only about $44,000 in financing costs, saving taxpayers substantially.
“If North Bergen’s bond rating was not Aa3 there is no way we could have achieved this historically low interest rate,” said Mayor Sacco. “This rate comes in far below our projection of one percent and will save North Bergen taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The savings are a direct result of the smart financial practices and controls we have installed and now taxpayers will reap the benefit.”
North Bergen’s financial strength has also allowed it to invest in new and expanded services for residents. In the last year the township has opened the Kennedy Branch Library Annex, purchased a new pothole repair system, renovated the public fitness center in James J. Braddock Park and kept its commitment to public safety by maintaining a fully staffed police department of 120 officers.
“North Bergen still faces financial challenges, chiefly the lack of state aid which has been cut nearly in half since its peak seven years ago and has been stagnant since 2011,” said Mayor Sacco. “However, we have maximized our assets and found new and innovative ways to increase revenue and make our operations more efficient. I would like to thank our Revenue and Finance Commissioner Allen Pascual, Township Administrator Chris Pianese, Chief Financial Officer Bob Pittfield and their staff for continued excellent work.”