MEDIA CONTACT:  Julie Willmot
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TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County’s responsible fiscal management has once again paid off, said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes today upon receiving word that Standard & Poor’s Rating Services has affirmed the county’s general obligation (GO) debt rating at AA+.

“I’m very pleased that despite tough economic times everywhere, Mercer County has been able to not only maintain its level of fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers, but has been recognized by S&P for our discipline,’’ said Hughes. S&P has declared Mercer County’s outlook “stable,’’ added Hughes.

S&P noted Mercer County’s “steady financial performance and the maintenance of good reserve levels stabilized by ongoing tax base expansion.” In its report, S&P cited as factors for its affirmation Mercer County’s diverse employment base, its five institutions of higher learning, its vast health care technology sector, its hosting of state government and its geographic position between New York and Philadelphia.

S&P also recognized Mercer County’s solid property values, below average unemployment rate, and “manageable’’ capital improvement plan. “Mercer County’s long-term economic stewardship is based on our fiscal performance today.

“We’ve made some smart choices that have allowed us to trim the size of county government by more than 10 percent, which in turn has kept our tax rate stable. Mercer continues to be a good place to start or run a business, and even in this difficult economic time, our local outlook remains promising,” Hughes said.

In fact, the county’s $286 million spending plan that was adopted unanimously in May by the Board of Chosen Freeholders held the county tax rate to the same as last year – 48 cents per $100 of assessed property value -- while reducing the overall tax levy to $221 million. That rate is well below the 54-cent tax rate Hughes inherited when he first took office in 2004.