Monroe County Democrats are saying "we told you so."
They're jumping on a decision by Moody's Financial Service to downgrade the county's credit rating as evidence the county's finances aren't in order.
Moody's says that Monroe County relies too much on one time revenue sources and aggressive budgeting of revenues to balance the county's budget. The downgrade means the county will face higher interest rates when it borrows money. That makes county highway and construction projects cost more.
The good news?
Moody's says the tax base in the county is stable, unemployment rates are reasonably low, and the county doesn't have huge pension costs. Also, the lower rating is still investment grade.
But to quote from Moody's, "The downgrade reflects a significant weakening in the county's financial position with a structural imbalanced budget dependent on non-recurrent revenue."
Paul Haney, County Legislator for the 23rd district, is the ranking Democrat on the County's Ways and Means Committee. He called the downgrade “alarming” and blamed it on the Republican county administration refusing to look at Democratic proposals to address the county’s expenditures.
But the administration’s Chief Financial Officer refuses to get excited by the Moody’s rating. Robert Franklin said the real issue is that Moody’s wants to see the county raise property tax rates – and that’s something County Executive Maggie Brooks refuses to do.
Meanwhile, the City of Rochester drew a "Best Quality" designation from Moody's on its paper.
City Hall was quick to point out that Moody's rated Rochester's bonds at "Double-A 3" even though the city faces the same financial shortfalls as every other city across New York.
Moody's cited Rochester for "strong fiscal management which has led to historically strong reserves."
Mayor Tom Richards said that's because the city avoids quick fixes in times of financial stress.