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(White Plains, NY) – Westchester County was notified by S&P and Fitch that the County’s financial outlook has been downgraded to AA+.  Moody’s assigned Aa1 to Westchester.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “These downgrades are certainly no surprise.  As we have said these past few months, the County is in serious financial stress. We have had to make hard decisions in drafting the 2019 proposed fiscal budget; we are saving wherever we can, such as renegotiating contracts such as the Liberty Lines deal.   Regardless of the many steps we are taking to improve our footing, these problems were not created overnight and they will not be solved overnight.”

In the report, S&P stated that the rating action reflects the view of the County’s narrow financial reserves at fiscal year-end 2017, and the paying of the union contracts when no money had been previously budgeted to do so.  Additionally, the report commends Latimer’s efforts to formulate a structurally balanced budget and recognized the County’s “strong management, with good financial policies and practices under our financial management assessment methodology.” 

Meanwhile, Fitch put the rating outlook at “stable” based on the County’s continued reliance on one-time budgetary actions.  S&P stated that, “should the County successfully implement additional revenue measures, as well as continued evaluating expenditure reductions to produce structurally balanced operations while constraining long-term liability growth, we could revise the outlook to stable.”

Moody’s report also stated that; “The rating also reflects the county’s deteriorated financial position that is likely to improve in the near-term given strong financial management.”

Latimer said: “We are going to right this ship.  My goal is to have the County’s AAA bond rating, by Moody’s, S&P and Fitch, return before I leave office. But, we are going to have to face up to the necessity of tough choices in the days ahead.”