Moody’s announced yesterday it was removing a negative rating watch for Rockland County after county officials met last week with representatives of Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings last week, County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef to The Journal News.
Moody’s downgraded the county’s rating to Baa3—just shy of junk status. That gave Rockland the lowest credit rating of all counties in the state. It also gave the county a negative watch, placing it on a 30- to 60-day watch for an imminent downgrade. Moody’s announced this week has ended the review.
“It means they’ve taken us off the list,” Vanderhoef told The Journal News. “That’s what we went down there (Manhattan) to accomplish.”
Elected officials in Rockland working to address an overall budget deficit in the county of roughly $95 million and a 2012 budget shortfall of some $40 million.
Moody’s is still giving the county a negative outlook, which means it could face another credit downgrade in the future. A lower credit rating means taxpayers will be charged higher interest.
The county has asked the state Legislature, which adjourns its regular session today, for permission to borrow $80 million to address the deficit. The county will save $22 million by laying off 102 employees, eliminating more than three dozen vacant jobs, hiking property taxes by 30 percent and other measures.