Carolyn FortinoNov 30, 2017, 7:07 pmDec 1, 2017, 11:51 am

Westchester's credit rating dropped from 'Stable' to 'Negative'

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor's cited its decision on a reliance on one-shot revenues to balance county budgets

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WHITE PLAINS — Outgoing County Executive Rob Astorino has released his final proposed budget for 2018. Now, members of the Board of Legislators are holding a series of budget hearings to sort through the numbers, which some say would leave them over $100 million in the red.

"It includes $29 million from the airport, which may or may not happen; so that's fictitious. It includes $40 million of settlements with CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association), no money is in the budget for that. Another $26 million for raises going forward and back for corrections, and another $5 million that the county executive used to decimate various departments in the 2018 budget," said Benjamin Boykin, a legislator.

Standard and Poor's global ratings revised its outlook for Westchester's debt from "stable" to "negative," citing a reliance on one-shot revenues to balance county budgets.

Astorino, who served for eight years as County Executive, kept the property tax levy flat, but needed to rely on borrowing for operating expenses.

Legislator Boykin says that a series of structurally unbalanced budgets has created a financial mess for the future.

"Because the market is concerned with the county's ability to repay its debt, when you go and borrow money you're going to be charged more because you are a higher credit risk. That's exactly what it means," Boykin said.

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