NEW CITY — Rockland County has put the brakes on a junk-status credit rating after Moody’s Investor Services today said it had ended a review that could have resulted in the devastating downgrade.
“It means they’ve taken us off the list,” County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef told The Journal News today. “That’s what we went down there (New York City) to accomplish.”
Last month, Moody’s downgraded the county to Baa3 – just one rank above junk status, giving Rockland the lowest credit rating of all counties in New York.
At the same time, the company also gave the county a negative watch, putting it under a 30- to 60-day review for an imminent downgrade.
The county immediately stepped up its efforts to develop a contingency budget and convince Moody’s, along with Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, that it was taking control and righting its fiscal house.
County leaders met with representatives of the companies last week in New York City to explain the steps being taken to address an overall budget deficit of about $95 million, a 2012 budget shortfall of about $40 million and the money-draining Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center.
The effort apparently paid off with today’s announcement by Moody’s, which kept the rating at Baa3 and removed the negative watch.
Rockland Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, D-Wesley Hills, who has worked to find solutions to the county’s fiscal crisis, said he hoped Moody’s report represented a turning point for the county.
“I hope it means we’re going in the right direction and the county is turning things around,” Schoenberger said.