Moody’s Shows Orange County’s Finances Stable

Kathy Welsh

GOSHEN – Citing the stabilization of finances by Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, Moody’s Investors Service has removed the negative outlook on Orange County’s finances and revised it to show a stable rating.

“This action is recognition by a respected, non-political organization that Orange County’s finances are better off now than when I took office,” Neuhaus said. “In January 2014, the County’s finances were unstable. We inherited massive deficits, expired union contracts, and inaccurate sales tax projections. Today, we are rebuilding the fund balance, projecting realistic potential revenues, growing the economy and have resolved the union contracts.”

Added Neuhaus, “To continue the progress, we will prioritize economic development opportunities and stay within the tax cap while maintaining all necessary and important services. Moody’s actions are an honest recognition that my administration’s efforts are working to steady the County’s fiscal condition. Continued and consistent efforts will keep us on the right path.”

Moody’s noted that under Neuhaus’ watch, the County’s tax base has stabilized after years of contraction. Moody’s also observed that after “four consecutive years of declines through 2014, the county’s reserves stabilized in 2015 and will likely begin to grow in the near term.” Moody’s added that under the prior administration, management “had previously relied on excess sales tax to offset annual fund balance appropriations” and that “New management” (Neuhaus) “took over in 2014 and was able to replenish about half of that year’s $44.9 million fund balance appropriation” despite being left with a $12 million sales tax shortfall. Moody’s also credited the retirement incentives proposed by Neuhaus and adopted by the County Legislature for helping to stabilize the County’s finances.

“Moody’s has affirmed that Orange County is moving in the right direction financially,” said Steve Brescia, chairman of the Orange County Legislature. “The County Executive was handed very challenging financial circumstances and has led the way in putting the County back on track. I am pleased to partner with him and look forward to our continued success.”

Added Karin Hablow, Orange County’s Commissioner of Finance, “This is positive news for Orange County. Our finances are being honestly reported and Moody’s recognizes that. Moody’s is clearly impressed with the new leadership in the County, which has balanced the budget and is making job growth a priority. More work remains and we will continue the smart financial management that began with the County Executive.”