Improved reserves boosted New York’s Monroe County to an A3 credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service five months after it topped a state list for having the most fiscal stress.
Moody’s upgraded county’s general obligation limited tax rating one notch from Baa1 with a positive outlook citing proactive fiscal measures that have led to the county boosting its fund balance and making full pension payments. An analysis released last September by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapioli said Monroe County had the worst fiscal stress based on 2016 financial reports under indicators that factor in fund balance, cash flow and patterns of operating deficits.
“The upgrade to A3 reflects improved reserves, liquidity and reduction in pension amortization,” said Moody’s analyst Robert Weber in a Feb. 21 report. “The positive outlook reflects our expectation that reserves and liquidity will continue to improve in the near-term driven by strong expense management and conservative revenue estimates.”
Monroe’s available operating fund in 2016 finished at its highest level in more than a decade at 2.5% of revenues, according to Moody's. When adjusted to include shared sales tax revenue from local governments within the county, the number rises to 3.4%, Weber noted.
Fitch Ratings upgraded Monroe’s general obligation two notchs to A from BBB-plus with a stable outlook in July 2017 citing strong budgetary flexibility. S&P Global Ratings also rates Monroe’s debt at A with a stable outlook.
Monroe was first downgraded by Moody’s one notch to Baa1 in August 2013 after running an operating deficit in the 2012 fiscal year. Moody’s revised its credit outlook to positive from negative in June 2016 citing an improved financial position aided by active budgeting.
“This upgrade affirms our fiscally-responsible approach to budgeting and will support my mission to keep property taxes flat and grow local jobs and our economy,” Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said in a statement.
Monroe County, with a seat in Rochester, had a population of 747,727 based on 2016 U.S. census figure estimates.