Moody’s Investors Service has revised its outlook for Rockland from negative to stable following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval of legislation that allows the county to issue $96 million in bonds to pay down most of its deficit.
“The stable outlook reflects our belief that the governor’s approval of legislation allowing the county to issue debt to reduce its deficit, as well as improved budgeting, will result in stability in its financial operations, albeit at a weakened level,” Moody’s said.
Moody’s downgraded Rockland three levels in May 2012, and its bonds are rated Baa3, one notch above junk status. Even with the $96 million in bonds, the county will still have a $32 million deficit.
The company said the county has “proactively managed the reduction of an accumulated fund balance deficit with recurring revenue enhancements and expenditure reductions.”
Financial losses at the county’s Summit Park Nursing Care Center and mental health facility “continue to pressure the county’s financial position, however,” the report said. The sale of the nursing home is pending.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a recent report on the county’s proposed 2014 budget that Rockland officials need to set aside money above the $96 million to start paying off the rest of the deficit. The legislation allowing the bond sale required that the comptroller’s office review the budget and make recommendations.
Rockland has $259 million in debt that is secured by general obligation bonds, according to Moody’s.
The county has an “extremely tight liquidity position,” the report said.
(Journal News file photo of the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center in Pomona.)