Standard & Poor's Corp. yesterday said New Jersey counties seem to be holding up well under pressure from the recent recession, but several factors are combining to threaten revenue streams in some regions.
In its weekly CreditWeek Municipal, the rating agency said that counties in the state enjoy extremely strong ratings. Almost half of its 17 county general obligation ratings are AA or better, "implying that most are coping successfully with recessionary pressures," Standard & Poor's said.
"However, counties may be challenged by revenue shortfalls from economic dislocation and rising tax appeals, in addition to increased costs associated with social services, solid waste, community college education, and additional debt issued through municipal utility/improvement authorities," the rating agency said.
New Jersey counties also face the loss of tax revenues from industrial personal property, to become tax-exempt in 1994. That could force counties to tap current fund balances or defer capital improvement plans, the rating agency said.
On the positive side, a recently passed constitutional amendment requires the state to assume county court costs beginning next year, which is expected to allow for a measure of property tax relief.