Fitch Ratings said it upgraded to AA from AA-minus the county of Essex, N.J.'s $121 million outstanding general obligation bonds and the $534 million outstanding county-guaranteed Essex County Improvement Authority bonds.

The rating outlook is stable.

The GO bonds are backed by the county's full faith and credit and unlimited taxing authority.

The county unconditionally and irrevocably guarantees the payment of the Essex County Improvement Authority (ECIA) bonds and has pledged its unlimited taxing authority to bondholders.

The upgrade reflects successful budget management during a time of elevated revenue risk associated with recessionary pressures.

Measured recurring revenue increases and prudent spending adjustments over the last four years position the county well to maintain its adequate financial cushion.

The county's tax base is broad and without concentration. A diverse mix of employers representing government, health, educational, and corporate sectors provides a solid base for long-term economic stability.

Overall debt levels are moderate and should remain so given the county's limited future debt needs and rapid amortization. Pension and other post-employment benefit (OPEB) costs are manageable but are expected to continue to rise given low state pension funding levels.

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