Governor Phil Murphy

ICYMI: Department of Community Affairs and City of Atlantic City Highlight S&P Global Ratings Upgrade and Positive Outlook for Atlantic City

11/23/2019

From the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs:


TRENTON, NJ
– The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and City of Atlantic City today called attention to S&P Global Ratings’ positive outlook of the City’s financial performance and its two-notch ratings upgrade on the City’s general obligation bonds. 

“This positive outlook demonstrates the steady progress that DCA and city officials are collaboratively making to improve the City’s fiscal health and its ability to appropriately manage its budget,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “Using the Atlantic City Transition Report as a guide, we are building up the City’s core strengths and addressing its longstanding challenges. We appreciate that S&P Global Ratings recognizes the effectiveness of the Murphy Administration’s community-centric approach and we look forward to continuing our important work in Atlantic City.”  

“It’s truly a great day here in the City of Atlantic City. I’m excited about the news of being upgraded two spots. It’s an indication of the sheer hard work, dedication and cooperation between the City and State,” said Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small. “The great news will continue to instill investor confidence in our city as we work towards the ultimate goal of providing long-lasting tax relief for our taxpayers.”  

Under the Municipal Stabilization and Recovery Act, the State, specifically DCA, is working to create financial stability for the City of Atlantic City by overseeing the City’s financial operations, annual budgeting, and financial planning and training. The Murphy Administration’s efforts have also focused on building the capacity of local government officials and enhancing quality-of-life for the city’s residents, understanding that these issues contribute to the city’s overall health and growth.  

Some of the Administration’s actions to support Atlantic City include:

 

  • Created an interdepartmental council within state government agencies called the Atlantic City Coordinating Council to develop holistic strategies to support the city and its residents.
  • Created the Atlantic City Executive Council, a forum where major city stakeholders and institutions work together to advance beneficial projects, and the Atlantic City Initiatives Project Office, a DCA team in the city that does the day-to-day work of transforming input from the community and the Executive Council into tangible action. 
  • Provided in-person ethics training to all city employees; certified public manager training administered by Rutgers University to city supervisors; and Faulkner Act training to the executive and legislative branches of city government so they can better understand the distinct roles and responsibilities of City Council and the Mayor’s Office.
  • Organized several town halls to discuss the city’s progress, attracting hundreds of attendees.
  • Launched the Neighborhood Coordination Officers program to strengthen community policing in the city and established a Citizens Advisory Board to improve communication between the community and police.
  • Promoted community pride by reviving community festivals and events such as the Atlantic City Latino Festival, which drew more than 7,000 people, and the Gardner’s Basin concerts.
  • Invigorated job training programs and employment opportunities for young people in the city through partnerships with Atlantic City Arts Foundation, local colleges and universities, healthcare institutions, and government agencies.
  • Began tackling public health needs by addressing food desert issues and partnering with AtlantiCare to develop a $38 million medical facility. 

The S&P report stated, “We believe Atlantic City is poised to maintain and continue to improve financial performance, increase reserves levels, and improve liquidity. In our opinion, it should be able to withstand a modest level of stress and meet its financial obligations--particularly as it remains under state oversight.”  

The report also stated that the City passed and adopted a fiscal 2019 budget in a timely fashion totaling $207.7 million, which is a reduction of 11 percent from the prior year. S&P additionally noted the budget reduced spending and relies less on Transitional Aid, which the ratings agency views positively. 

A positive S&P outlook can help Atlantic City’s finances because current and future investors are more confident investing in a city that has a credit rating on the upswing and that shows an increasing capacity and willingness to meet its financial commitments.