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Credit Rating Agencies Give Oneida County 2 Negative, 1 Stable Outlook

Oneida County Officials Discuss Credit Rating
Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) - As the country tries to recover after being down graded by credit rating agency, Standard & Poor’s—Oneida County’s budget has also come under scrutiny. Three rating agencies just completed their year long report and gave Oneida County good and bad marks. County Executive Anthony Picente Jr., and County Comptroller Joseph Timpano, announced that despite getting two negative and one stable outlook, fiscal balance has been maintained in the county.

Timpano explains the negative outlooks, “All it’s saying is that the County has obstacles to overcome, that can be overcome with alternative revenue sources, alternative expense reductions and things like that. For instance, the tax cap, it’s going to be very difficult to stay within the 2-percent. But, there are other sources of revenue and expense reduction that we can look at to hopefully stay within that 2-percent and if we can’t, we can see what happens then,” he said.

Picente says the credit rating is a realization of what’s to come. He says the county has maintained fiscal balance partly due to having to withdraw from the reserve funds in order to make ends meet. He said, “We have drawn down on reserve in our fund balance to help balance our budget to avoid large tax increases. The problem comes, as I warned a few years ago as Joe and I standing here warned that, there comes a time that it’s no different than your own savings account. That if you continue to draw from your savings account to pay your bills as you go forward, there comes a time when that empties out and there’s not an easy way to replenish that. He says the negative outlook is not a recognition that all is lost, but rather a realization that there are tough decisions ahead.

Standard & Poor’s gave the County an A+ with a stable outlook. Fitch Ratings gave it an A+with a negative outlook, and Moody’s gave it an A1 with a negative outlook.

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