County Executive Ed Day and Commissioner of Finance Stephen DeGroat announced that S&P Global Ratings raised the County’s long-term, underlying ratings two notches to AA from A+ noting that Rockland’s outlook remains stable.
This is the second double rating upgrade in July after Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the County’s issuer and general obligation limited tax (GOLT) ratings to Aa2 from A1.
“Receiving yet another double rating upgrade this month is truly incredible. Last year we acted quickly to protect Rockland’s fiscal health and we were incredibly successful which both S&P and Moody’s have taken notice of,” said County Executive Day.
As part of the rationale for the rating increase, S&P Global Ratings wrote, “In response to sales tax declines stemming from stay-at-home orders, the county implemented a hiring freeze, eliminated vacant personnel positions, and limited departmental spending to COVID-19 related costs, resulting in sizable expenditure reductions. Overall, these actions are resulting in strong budgetary performance as revenues are exceeding expectations in 2021 amid the economic recovery.”
“Despite the rapid deterioration of economic activity in the first half of 2020 to stem the virus transmission rate, which led to higher unemployment, officials report that ongoing development activity remains underway, including at Pfizer, one of the county’s largest taxpayers and major employers, and at Amazon, which recently leased two buildings for a new delivery station,” wrote S&P Global Ratings while describing Rockland County’s economy as very strong.
S&P Global Ratings also highlighted the County’s record of conservative budgeting practices and bi-partisan budgetary oversite, “Furthermore, the county legislature, county executive, state budget director, and chairs of the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees review quarterly budget-to-actual reports. Rockland County also provides a three-year financial plan to the state comptroller annually.”
“This upgrade marks well over a dozen consecutive bond and credit rating upgrades since July of 2014 after years of downgrades. My thanks and acknowledgement to everyone here in County government who has worked to improve our financial standing, from our employees to the County Legislature. The main takeaway from this latest upgrade is that more than 7 years later, we are still working to save taxpayer dollars. This is your money, and we will keep working to protect it while investing in a bright and sustainable future,” concluded County Executive Day.