Fourth Consecutive Credit Upgrade Since Mayor Fulop Took Office
Fitch report cites Jersey Cityâ€™s â€œimproved financial profileâ€ under the Fulop administration, a growing tax base and rebuilding of reserves to strong levels
The Fitch Group announced today a major, three-level increase of Jersey Cityâ€™s credit rating for General Obligation (GO) debt from A- to AA-, marking the fourth consecutive credit rating increase under the Fulop administration.
The upgrade follows the announcement two weeks ago with the budget introduction that municipal taxes would remain stable with no tax increase for a fourth consecutive year.
â€œTo receive such a significant credit rating upgrade and the fourth one during our first term is strong validation that we are on the right track, but we know there is still more to do as we continue to move Jersey City forward,â€ said Mayor Steven Fulop. â€œWe will continue to make sound fiscal decisions, while investing in public safety, building new parks, and expanding recreation as we have done these past four years, without raising taxes.â€
In 2016, both Moodyâ€™s and S&P upgraded Jersey Cityâ€™s credit rating, following an earlier upgrade by Moodyâ€™s in November of 2014.
The Fitch report released Thursday specifically cites â€œan improved financial profile evidenced by recent years of strong economic growthâ€ and the Fulop administrationâ€™s implementation of a three-year budget cycle to forecast for expenses, revenue and debt. Fitch also notes that Jersey Cityâ€™s revenue growth has â€œexceeded both inflation and the national GDP,â€ a trend that the credit rating agency expects will continue.
Meanwhile, the Fulop administration has also made pro-growth policies a priority, focusing on supporting local businesses and improving the quality of life for City residents. This credit upgrade, the fourth under Mayor Fulop, signals that key administration initiatives such as streamlining the permitting process, partnering with local businesses to revitalize commercial corridors, and opening the Office of Small Business to support existing and aspiring entrepreneurs are having their intended effect.
The administration has also adopted two new redevelopment plans â€“ one along Ocean Avenue South and one on MLK Drive â€“ to spur additional investment and development to all parts of the city so that the progress being made is experienced by all residents, as well as three new off-the-waterfront Restaurant Row zones.
More than 650 new small businesses have opened citywide and more than 7,000 jobs have been added with unemployment dropping by more than a third since Mayor Fulop took office. The Fitch report also notes that median household income levels are increasing and exceed national averages.
â€œThis is another sign of Jersey Cityâ€™s economic growth and strength, giving confidence to those who want to invest here as well as grow businesses and jobs here, that this is the place to do it,â€ said Maria Nieves, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. â€œWith this report, three separate credit rating agencies have validated that Jersey City is on a long-term track of growth, made possible by sound fiscal management and planning.â€
The upgrade also follows yesterdayâ€™s announcement that the Fulop administration is taking the unprecedented measure in Jersey City of establishing a policy sharing ten percent of revenue from tax-abated properties with the public schools.