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Greenburgh Letter: County Bond Downgrade Alarms Town Supervisor

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Greenburgh Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to greenburgh@dailyvoice.com .

To the editor:

Greenburgh’s bond rating continues to be the highest rating possible: Aaa. Yesterday, Moody’s downgraded Westchester County from Aaa to Aa1. This is very distressing since Westchester has had an Aaa bond rating for many years.

The reasons sighted were borrowing $28 million of the County’s $96 million pension bill for 2014; essentially deferring the payment of the $28 million to a future period in time. They did the same thing last year.

The town of Greenburgh, which has maintained our Aaa bond rating, also had that option, a couple years back, when the State made this option available to us. The board discussed that option with our Town Comptroller Bart Talamani and wisely decided to pay our bills as they came due rather than kick the can down the road.

We also had considered borrowing to pay certiorari’s a number of years back. Although certiorari borrowing was included in the budget, we reflected on the impact and never borrowed to pay for certiorari’s. I’m glad that we reflected on the impact borrowing would have.

The obvious intent of the pension contribution deferral was to maintain their fund balance at a predetermined level. It’s never a good idea to borrow to fund your operating expenses. Westchester County only needs to look across the river, to Rockland County, to understand where that “creative” budgeting will get you…junk bond status.

The Town has to continue to hold the line on fund balance appropriation and stay within our fund balance policies. We’ve taken some steps; assessment revaluation to stop the bleeding from tax cert refunds (I think that reassessment should be done by the county - it would create fairness and stop the bleeding county wide) and aggressive action on collect outstanding taxes.

Going forward, we have to continue to think about delivering the services, that the Town currently provides to its citizens, in a more cost effective way, if not in a different way.

We can see our financial future by looking to Westchester County and worse, Rockland County, if you do not budget, manage and invest wisely and conservatively.

Paul Feiner

Greenburgh town supervisor

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