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Monmouth County: A FINANCIAL FORCE MULTIPLIER

Monday, November 21, 2016 12:31
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(Before It's News)

By Freeholder Lillian G. Burry

Anyone living in Monmouth County is likely to be aware of the
many good things County government provides including our roads,
parks and library system.  One of the most important and
valuable things the County provides, however, is known to
relatively few residents. That’s the role the County plays in
enhancing the financial resources of others and it’s a role that’s
played quietly, sometimes indirectly, and always with unwavering
expertise.

Sometimes it takes the form of a direct payment, providing the
County share of the price for preserving farmland that brings far
larger amounts of state dollars to a deal. At other times it’s
providing a mix of funding and in-kind staff resources as a match
for Green Acres dollars used to acquire or develop additional open
space or some other worthy grant funded project. And sometimes it’s
taking advantage of the AAA bond rating of the County – a rating
held by fewer than two dozen of the more than three thousand
American counties – to help others borrow money through the
Monmouth County Improvement Authority (MCIA) at interest rates that
can save significant amounts of dollars in interest payments over
the life of a loan.

Perhaps the greatest example of this tool place recently when
the MCIA assisted FMERA in taking a truly transformational step. I
have had the privilege of representing the Board of Chosen
Freeholders from the beginning of the very long transition of Fort
Monmouth from active military base to its new role as an economic
engine for Monmouth County. This has always been a constructive,
yet sometimes challenging partnership with multiple towns, the
County, state, and the U.S. Army all participating, with each
pursuing its own legitimate ends.

From the very beginning the intent has been for the Army to
gradually exit the process as its responsibilities were fulfilled.
As FMERA moved closer to that point and properties were beginning
to be sold, the economic argument for facilitating that exit grew
stronger. Under the FMERA agreement, the Army received 60% of the
revenues from property sales. With properties appraised
collectively at over $90 million, a great deal of money was at
stake and the role of the County became vital.

As FMERA moved into Phase II of the redevelopment process, the
MCIA agreed to act as guarantor for $35 million in bonds and notes,
the money from which will be used to buy out the interest of the
Army and leave Monmouth County in the lead role. The magnitude of
this is easy enough to understand when you realize that 60% of more
than $90 million would be $55 million or more that would have gone
to the Army, and that buying that interest out for $35 million will
leave at least $20 million more here in Monmouth County. That’s
over $20 million that will be available to revitalize our local
economy that otherwise would have been shipped to Washington under
the original agreement. And it’s all being done at no net cost to
Monmouth County taxpayers.

When we think of the role of government, we tend to think in
concrete terms like land, buildings and people. It’s easy to
overlook the enormous added value that effective financial
management can bring. In times of economic constraint it’s double
important to have our financial assets work harder to grow our
resources, not only to provide for County government, but for all
of our various partners as well. This step with FMERA is just the
latest and arguably greatest example yet, of this kind of smart
financial management. It’s not something that has happened
overnight. It’s something that has been built up over time through
careful and consistent leadership by the Freeholders in support of
talented and dedicated professionals. The result has been a level
of confidence in the financial markets that preserved our AAA bond
rating even through the depths of the Great Recession. This
confidence is an intangible yet very real asset based on the
strength of County Finances along with that of the 53
municipalities that make up the county and are able to utilize
resources like the MCIA. This use in turn, helps to increase values
and expand the financial base of the entire county and it’s this
ongoing synergistic process that makes Monmouth County a financial
force multiplier adding value without adding taxpayer cost.



Source: http://www.moremonmouthmusings.net/2016/11/21/monmouth-county-a-financial-force-multiplier/

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