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Montgomery Township
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Monday March 19, 2018


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Township Scores Big with Bond Rating & Financial Best Practices

At the September 7 Township Committee meeting Township Administrator Donato Nieman said that Moody's Investor Services once again affirmed Montgomery Township's Aa1 bond rating, which Nieman said is terrific for a municipality the size of Montgomery.

"That's an excellent rating and we maintain this from the prior year. It makes us more attractive in the marketplace when we go for financing," he said.

Moody's re-rated Montgomery because the township went out to the bond market for nearly $10 million. Nieman says the township's interest rate could fall under 2.30% at a time when finance staff thought 2.80% would be the baseline. "Hopefully, we get below what we thought we'd get as that means paying less interest and having less debt over time. Anytime you're under 3.0% in the market is great, closer to 2.0% is fantastic," he said.

Township CFO Michael Pitts said the annual "best management practices questionnaire" from State began the internal Q&A, "Checking management and finance situations of municipalities," when Gov. Christie took office. Consequently New Jersey will not withhold aid to Montgomery Township as it attained a score of 96%, certainly an "A-plus," in 2017; up from Montgomery's usual 90% highs.

Pitts said the 2017 questionnaire was a total 25 questions as opposed to 30 questions, and in prior years it was up to 50 questions. "The questionnaire promotes financial accountability, municipal transparency and sound management. Recently we've gotten our township budget passed on time and our audit done on time, reflecting improvements," Pitts said at the September 7 meeting.

Pitts said Montgomery Township had to answer "No" to question 5 from the state on the average ratio of assessed value to true market value. "Basically our assessed value is below true market value, as we're about 82% right now. If this is under 85% you must answer 'no' to the question. In Somerset County we were the lowest at 82%. Some municipalities rated higher above us at 95%. That is something we will have to look into in the future," Pitts said.

Nieman said New Jersey prefers for municipalities to be at 85% or above for ratable-based assessed values on the books, otherwise revaluation could be discussed. "We have not been ordered to do revaluation by the Somerset County Tax Board. However it would not come as a shock if within the next two or three years we are directed to do so," he said after the meeting.

Meanwhile, projected Township improvements includes new signage, a light post and a new look for the building just north of Cherry Valley Avenue on northbound Route 206. A site plan and construction project for renovating the Western Pest office, including a full basement, was approved by the Planning Board last November.

At the September 7 meeting, Township Committee approved a construction sequence agreement, a sewer cross-easement agreement, and a remaining sewer capacity agreement with corporation Rollins-Western Real Estate Holdings, LLC. The capacity agreement is to preserve the remaining capacity in the Stage II Sewage Treatment Plant.

Also on September 7, Township Committee approved an outdoor assembly permit for David Tormey to hold a car show at Princeton Airport during October. The Committee's permit approval specified conditions of police department approval on parking facilities, traffic plans and safety considerations. Tormey is required to employ three Township police officers for the event. Organizers must also obtain a fire permit as well as required health certificates from the Township Health Department.

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