Montclair’s financial outlook is better than it has been in years, according to a recent report by Standard & Poor’s.
The rating service reaffirmed both Montclair’s AA- rating and its economic outlook of stable on its debt earlier this month. Business Manager Marc Dashield said the recent rating could point toward a positive trend for Montclair.
“The good news about the rating is ... [that] based on the fact that the town continues to do what we are doing right now, [Standard & Poor’s] could foresee us getting a rating increase,” said Dashield.
In addition, the township is also expected to save approximately $315,000 over nearly 10 years after it refinanced about $2.7 million in general obligation bonds this month. The decision to refinance amounts to an 11-percent savings during the remaining life of the bonds.
The township is expected to finalize the refinancing in the coming weeks, said Dashield. The original $2.95 million bond was taken out in the early 2000s to fund pensions and will be paid through 2021.
The more stable outlook is a far cry from what the township was facing after the financial meltdown of 2008. By 2010, Montclair’s surplus dropped to the lowest level in years (about $2.2 million), revenue projections fell short and budget problems all contributed to its economic outlook being downgraded.
But Dashield said the township has since worked to right the financial ship.
The workforce in town was decreased by 10 percent, a property reassessment was done in 2011, and various cost-saving measures were implemented -- all of which brought Montcliar’s surplus up to $3.3 million at the end of 2011.
Dashield noted that maintaining a stable surplus should to be the town’s biggest goal during the next few years.
“We are being very ... smart in how we look at our revenues,” said Dashield. “... In 2010 we almost used our entire surplus ... in our budget. Now we are being very conservative ... so we don’t drop our surplus each year by putting it in the budget.”
The township’s overall debt is projected to be approximately $207 million at the end of the year, down from about $221 million last year.