Hudson Valley News
4:07 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Moody’s Downgrades Rockland County’s Bond Rating

Rockland County is still feeling the sting after Moody's Investor Service dropped the county's investment status rating three notches to just above junk level. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas has an update:

The county has suffered through the recession, which has cut sharply into sales tax revenue. Republican County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef says Moody's “reacted prematurely” to news that Democratic State Senator David Carlucci would not support home rule legislation to allow Rockland to slightly increase its sales tax. Vanderhoef noted that the county had been working on a contingency plan, with layoffs and service cuts, to address a $40 million gap in its $702 million budget.

Ron Levine, the County Executive's Director of Communications, says the plan was released yesterday - I asked him why it wasn't out BEFORE Moody's dropped the rating. The tax hike would generate an estimated $14 million a year. The county had planned to use the money to pay off $80 million in bonds that could have reduced the deficit.

Levine says the County Executive is waiting for the legislature to give the contingency plan "due consideration".

Senator Carlucci's office did not return a call for comment in time for broadcast.

Moody's also noted that Rockland County has failed to sell a county-owned nursing home whicht has been a drain on finances.

Anthony Figliola, the Vice President of Empire Government Strategies, specializes in coordination between businesses and government entities to attract, retain and grow jobs and business.  He sees the Moody's downgrade as a clear sign that more and more localities are feeling pain and getting declining state support.

Two other counties in the New York suburbs are also having fiscal difficulties. Nassau County's finances have been under state oversight for more than a year, and Suffolk County's credit was downgraded by Moody's in March as it battled growing budget deficits.

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