(This information was posted by Mayor Brindle on social media on July 20, 2022)
Today, I have some excellent news to report on the ongoing fiscal health of the Town.
We were recently notified by S&P Global Ratings that they assigned their AAA long-term rating to the Town’s $9.9M series 2022 general obligation (GO) general improvement bonds, which support the Town’s facilities, infrastructure improvements, and ongoing equipment purchases. Importantly, S&P also reaffirmed their AAA rating on the Town's GO bonds outstanding, which allowed us to conduct a very successful $9.9M bond sale this morning that achieved a final rate of 2.499%. As a result, we will be reducing our first year of interest by almost $60,000, and lowering our overall debt service by $624,000 from our initial projections several months ago that took into account the uncertainty of the markets.
Credit ratings are forward looking opinions about an issuer’s relative creditworthiness. S&P defines a AAA rating, their highest, as Investment Grade, with extremely strong capacity to meet financial commitments. In fact, Westfield is among just 44 of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities to achieve this rating.
S&P described the town's market values per capita as among the strongest in the county, and reaffirmed our strategy related to our surplus as follows: “Given expected fiscal 2022 performance and management’s unofficial target of holding reserves at the current level, we expect Westfield will maintain very strong reserves and liquidity over our outlook horizon.”
To reiterate what good news this is, we had been advised to conservatively project that the marketplace might produce a sale between 3% and 3.5%, with hopes that we may go as low as 2.9%. Upon completion of the sale, with six bidders in total, Fidelity Capital Markets was awarded the bid, with the lowest net interest cost of 2.499%. In fact, the top four bidders were all within five basis points of one another, confirming the strong value that Westfield “paper” holds within the investment community.
All of this is fantastic news and reiterates our strong fiscal, debt, and surplus management strategy, positioning Westfield extremely well even during these uncertain times. I’d like to thank our Town Administrator Jim Gildea and CFO Scott Olsen, who lead our daily financial operations and are supported by the heads of each Town department in maintaining an informed, strategic, and disciplined approach to managing your tax dollars. The assistance we received from our long-term Bond Counsel, Steven Rogut, and our Financial Advisor, Sherry Tracy, was also extremely helpful in achieving an optimal outcome. In addition, the Town Council Finance Policy Committee, which consists of Councilmembers Habgood, Parmelee, Contract, and Katz, has been instrumental in setting forth and delivering on this administration’s fiscal strategy.
As we are seeing in the recent residential real estate trends and ongoing investment in our downtown, Westfield remains a very desirable location for families and businesses. Today’s news only further strengthens our position as we look to the next phase of optimizing our post-pandemic future.