Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan boarded a train to Manhattan Wednesday, March 12, to discuss the town’s fiscal issues with Moody’s Investors Service.
We certainly want to keep Moody’s updated. I’m looking forward to getting the response in writing. It was my estimation that it was a good meeting, said Mahan. `At this point we’re just waiting for the report [from Moody’s]. We don’t want to see our rating drop; we want some time to work on our finances.`
As for the town’s current rating, Mahan said Colonie is `a step below Albany and a step above Schenectady.`
Moody’s, which conducts financial research and analyses of government and commercial entities, has ranked Colonie’s credit rating as `Baa1 with a negative outlook,` according to the audit report issued by the state comptroller’s office last month. This rating, lower than previous years, has been a source of concern for town officials.
`Moody’s cited the town’s deteriorated financial position evidenced by six consecutive years of sizable operating deficits and challenges to restoring structural balance,` said the audit report.
In meeting with Moody’s, Mahan and Comptroller Craig Blair wished to reassure the investment firm that the town is undertaking measures to resolve its deficit.
`The long and short of it is the concern of Moody’s investors dropping the bond rating,` said Pete Gannon, director of operations. He notes that Mahan and Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton spoke regarding similar fiscal concerns that Schenectady faced, ultimately prompting the trip to New York City. `[The supervisor] took some of the mayor’s advice to be proactive about resolving the fiscal situation we inherited.`
`It was a very positive meeting, and it was beneficial to us and them,` said Blair. He notes that the importance of the meeting lies in its immediacy. Rather than allowing delays in information, the officials felt it would be best to directly contact Moody’s to help resolve the bond rating.
Results of the meeting are expected in one to two weeks and will help to guide Colonie’s officials toward a solution. Blair notes that the meeting with Moody’s is not going to be a final solution, but a part of the larger whole that will remedy the town’s monetary concerns.
`It was something we felt we should do to get the bond ratings,` said Blair.
The February audit report issued by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli placed the Colonie Deficit at approximately $18 million.
Moody’s ratings are used to determine the level of credit risk a corporation, municipality, or other entity represents. Colonie’s `Baa1` rating indicates that the town, while not a great risk, may be lacking fiscal protective measures of longer periods of time.“