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Rating Agency Keeps Clarkstown At Triple A

Standard and Poor's maintains Clarkstown's status at highest level a municipality can receive.


Clarkstown officials announced the town maintained its AAA rating, the highest a municipality can receive, from Standard and Poor’s, who reported a stable its outlook is stable.  

The Triple A rating reflected Standard and Poor’s opinion that the town has: 

  • a strong local economy with access to the deep and diverse employment bases of New York City, Westchester County and northern New Jersey;
  • an affluent property tax base, demonstrated by above average income levels and high market value per capita; and 
  • strong reserves and sound financial management.

“In this economic climate, I am proud Clarkstown has been able to keep our AAA rating,” said Supervisor Alex Gromack.  “Our efforts to reduce spending, consolidate government and maintain our tax stabilization fund have proven that our fiscal management is sound and strong.”  

Standard and Poor’s considered Clarkstown’s financial management practices strong under its financial management assessment methodology, indicating practices are strong, well embedded and likely sustainable.  Standard and Poor’s concluded that Clarkstown’s strong financial position is due, in large part, to its unreserved general fund balance for tax stabilization purposes.  

In 2009, Clarkstown negotiated the sale of its Solid Waste Transfer Station to the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority and eliminated annual operating expenses and established a $15 million dollar tax stabilization fund with the proceeds.  Financial decisions such as these played a significant role in the Town earning and keeping its AAA bond rating, which has resulted in millions saved in interest charges.  

Also, the Town adopted the 2012 budget, which reflected a 0 percent increase to the budget and the 2011 budget which reflected a .04 percent overall reduction to the budget.  The 2010 budget reflected a minor 1.6 percent increase after $3 million dollars in spending reductions.  In addition to cutting spending, the town reduced costs through job consolidation and attrition and has 71 fewer full time employees (15 percent reduction) than six years ago. 

Clarkstown has secured $32 million in grants for projects and continues to research and seek out potential opportunities for federal and state Assistance and partners with other governmental entities on community wide projects as a means of reducing costs where possible. 

“We have been successful in cutting spending while preserving a continued level of service for our residents,” said Gromack. 

While the town and Rockland County share a similar economic base, Standard and Poor’s sees considerable differences in their respective cost structures and financial and liquidity positions to justify the rating variance.  The county bond rating is one level above junk bond status. Standard and Poor’s concludes the town's rating is not expected to change within the two year outlook parameter, because they believe the town is taking actions, some recurring and some ontetime actions that will maintain its strong financial position. 

Mary August 09, 2012 at 08:33 PM
"Clarkstown has secured $32 million in grants for projects and continues to research and seek out potential opportunities for federal and state Assistance"... that is OUR money... grant money = money the government has taken from us...
Michael N. Hull August 09, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Clarkstown has over $90 millions in debt and that is rising.  Having a Triple A rating in this case is somewhat akin to someone with $20,000 of credit card debt who makes the minimum monthly payment of $50.  The credit rating looks fine but the bill is mounting.  Rockland County is one level above junk status and the "affluent  property tax base, demonstrated by above average income levels and high market value per capita" is the same tax base on the hook for the bills of the 'junk status' spenders.  Rockland County is busy transferring its bills to the Towns and that inevitably means that the Town's credit rating will sink to that of the County. Meanwhile Clarkstown's band of "Triple A" legislators has apparently been holding a cabalistic meeting in the "Little House of Horrors". http://www.rocklandtimes.com/2012/08/09/house-of-horrors/ A fear-ridden, white-faced Ed Lettre demanded that Democratic Councilwoman Hausner recruit her friends to enroll in his Conservative Party with the admonition: “Just do it.” Bye bye Clarkstown's triple A rating as these 'Halloween politicians' mud wrestle for political power and control of the public's purse.   One good thing to come out of this seance was that we learned who is pulling the puppet strings of the members of the Clarkstown Town Board.  http://newcity.patch.com/blog_posts/puppet-on-a-string It's the ghostly Ed Lettre!
fred August 09, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Great news Alex keep up good work
Mike Hirsch August 10, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I believe S&P and Moody's also rated Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers AAA a couple of months before they both went bust in 2008.
Maureen August 10, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Mike I agree! The Clarkstown rating is based on the following criteria 1) A strong local economy with access to the deep and diverse employment bases of New York City, Westchester County and northern New Jersey; 2) An affluent property tax base, demonstrated by above average income levels and high market value per capita; and  3) strong reserves and sound financial management. Items 1 and 2 apply equally well to the overall situation in Rockland County yet the county is rated at nearly junk status! As to item 3 Clarkstown's reserves have dropped significantly and it is about to take a hit on tax revenues coming from the Palisades mall.  That leaves the only difference between the town and the county to be "sound financial management".  With that logic if the county handed management of its finances over to the town then the rating would be AAA? I don't think so. Rockland County's financial leak will sink the Clarkstown ship just as certainly as a small hole sunk the Titanic.  By transferring county debts to the towns Clarkstown's ship is already beginning to list to starboard to the tune of several millions of dollars.  Whatever the bond rating of this town, where taxes are now in the top five of the USA,  it is headed towards being in first place in taxation.  But the band is playing on the aft deck.  Congratulations!
AH August 10, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Obama will probably get credit
Guy Gervasi August 10, 2012 at 12:41 PM
The town’s seeming financial stability stems from the sale of the transfer station for $15 million, which made its reserves strong. Clarkstown was able to keep its tax rate low only by dipping into its reserves, down $5 million and counting, but if it continues to spend as much as it is presently doing and keep its debt high at $90 million, that reserve will soon evaporate. Yes, we are best of the worst, but a few years down the road, if we don’t get our costs under control, we’re going to be in the same shape as the county. Guy Gervasi
jrod August 16, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Good point Mike. How can any town in Rockland have a tripple A rating right now - when the county is broke - and close to junk bond status & a possible state takeover...and the state of NY is in bad shape as well. It's all smoke and mirrors - and one step away from disaster. S&P is a joke.

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