RED BANK: MOODY’S LIFTS NEGATIVE OUTLOOK

By JOHN T. WARD

Nearly a year after Moody’s went negative on Red Bank, the Wall Street debt rater has reversed course, borough officials said.

The credit research firm told town officials by email Friday morning that it has affirmed the town’s debt Aa3 rating and removed the “negative outlook” imposed last November over concerns about a shrinking surplus, said Councilman Mike DuPont, who heads up the governing body’s finance committee.

“There’s no Moody blues today,” DuPont told redbankgreen

The change comes just as the borough is preparing to sell $8.3 million worth of long-term debt to refinance short-term notes, said borough Chief Financial Officer Colleen Lapp.

It means that the borough’s debt issue is likely to cost taxpayers less in interest than if the negative outlook had remained in place, Lapp said.

“It just validates that Red Bank is on solid financial footing,” she said.

Town officials raised a stink when Moody’s went negative, claiming they had reduced account surpluses at the statewide directive of Governor Chris Christie¬†in order to cushion taxpayers against rising local property taxes.

DuPont said the general fund surplus, which had declined to $409,000 last year, from $1.58 million at the end of 2008, is now back to about $810,000.

Since last year, the borough’s labor force has shrunk to 172 employees, from 192, he said.