While other municipalities are dealing with budget deficits and financial downgrades, Port Chester recently earned a thumbs-up from financial analysts.
Moody's, an independent analysis firm that rates municipalities based on their financial health and debt, issued a to Port Chester for the . The double-A ranking is the second-highest rating given by the New York City-based financial analysts, and indicates a strong financial outlook and low credit risk.
The rating seemed to amuse some trustees. When Port Chester's Republicans borrowed from the village's fund balance to help by $2 million, Mayor Dennis Pilla warned that the village's bond rating could be downgraded, leading to higher interest rates on loans. The mayor's Republican colleagues didn't let him forget those warnings last week when he announced the latest rating from Moody's.
"You know, it's funny the way things change," Trustee John Branca said. "I remember the last budget go-around, somebody was telling us that our bond rating was going to go south … And jeez, look what happened?"
Trustee Sam Terenzi followed Branca, mocking that board Republicans and conservatives broke state law when they held last year.
"Even after cutting $2 million out of our levy, we still held up our bond rating?" he asked sarcastically. "Even with that last-minute budget circus and the smoke-filled rooms and all that? Oh, it's amazing!"
Pilla laughed off the indirect jabs, saying he expects them as a member of the board's political minority. The important thing, he said, is that the financial analysts "affirmed Port Chester's strong fiscal management and fiscal position" with the bond rating.
"This is at a time when even the county was downgraded because of the way they were using fund balance," he said.
The strong rating from Moody's will allow the village to take short-term loans at low interest rates, in some cases less than one or two percent, Pilla said.
Together, Republicans and Democrats on the board bring decades of accounting and corporate finance experience. Some don't take salaries from the village.
"With all of our experience, we know what's going on with the budget," Terenzi said. "I think we've got a great board when it comes to that."
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