Broome County Retains Standard & Poor’s ‘A’ Credit Rating


(Binghamton, NY) –Broome County Executive Debbie Preston today announced Broome County has retained its coveted ‘A’ Credit Rating from Standard & Poor’s Rating Service. The ‘A’ Rating is based on the following criteria:
·         Revenue and Expenditure Assumptions;
·         Budget Amendments and Updates;
·         Long-term Financial Planning;
·         Long-term Capital Planning;
·         Investment Management Policies;
·         Debt Management Policies; and
·         Reserve and Liquidity Policies.
“Over the last 12 months we have made some significant decisions to bring recurring savings to Broome County each year, while paying down existing debt and creating a real plan for the future,” said Broome County Executive Debbie Preston. “I am proud that, despite ongoing flood recovery efforts and an economy on the rebound, we were able to retain our ‘A’ Rating with Standard and Poor’s.”
Broome County’s ‘A’ Rating from Standard & Poor’s comes as other New York Counties including Rockland and Suffolk were downgraded -- and just one year after Broome County’s credit rating was downgraded in 2011 by Moody’s.
The report, issued by Standard and Poor’s last week cites the following for the County’s stable economic outlook:
·         Large and diverse economic base anchored by the higher education and healthcare sectors that continues to experience development;
·         Improving financial position with plans to begin restoring and maintaining reserves and liquidity; and
·         Manageable direct debt burden.
“Broome County’s ‘A’ Rating is especially noteworthy given the trends across the Country of declining credit ratings,” said Broome County Office of Management & Budget Director Marie Kalka. “At a time when municipalities across the Country are in dire financial straits, Broome County has taken big steps to stabilize our finances.”
 Since taking office in January, Preston has implemented important cost-saving initiatives including:
·         Cutting her own and 63 other top managers’ salaries and benefits by 5%, which delivered a recurring annual savings of $364,000;
·         Cutting back the County’s Vehicle Policy to take away some managers’ Take-Home vehicles and selling 10% of the Vehicle Fleet, which delivered a recurring saving of $80,000 every year over five years; and
·         Cutting down on leases through space consolidation, which delivered a recurring annual savings of $100,000.
Several additional recurring savings initiatives are being implemented by Preston and her team in the 2013 Budget, including:
·         Merging the operating aspects of the Parks Department and Youth Bureau;
·         Implementing a Retirement Incentive for County employees, and not refilling certain of those positions, which will deliver a recurring annual savings of $700,000;
·         Reducing staff and improving scheduling in the Security Division, which will deliver a recurring annual savings of $371,000;
·         Reinstituting the “Work First” approach to safety net applicants in the Department of Social Services, which will deliver a recurring annual savings of $640,000; and
·         Combining Probation efforts in the JD Group with the PINS Group, resulting in the defunding of four positions, which will deliver a recurring annual savings of $281,000.
The 2013 Broome County Budget strengthens the County’s fund balance to 11.8% of the 2013 property tax levy. Preston set a goal of boosting reserves to between 15% and 20% of the levy in the future so the County will be better prepared for possible economic downturns or emergencies.
Finally, Preston took steps to:
·         Reduce County borrowing to $15 million and reduce the term to 7 Months, and in doing so will save the County $275,000 annually; and
·         Refinance $16.1 million in debt with more favorable terms, to save the County $750,000 annually.
Standard & Poor’s credit ratings express the agency’s opinion about the ability and willingness of an issuer to meet its financial obligations in full and on time.
12/12/2012 - 10:17am