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.