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Moody's acts on fire district ratings

An engine loaned by East Meadow sits in

An engine loaned by East Meadow sits in the Long Beach firehouse on Thursday, December 6, 2012, in Long Beach. (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Moody’s Investors Service has resumed rating the Locust Valley Fire District’s bonds after suspending its ratings last month because it had not received requested information.

The district said last month it would supply the information that had been delayed inadvertently, and last week Moody’s assigned an Aa2 rating to the district’s $1.1 million in outstanding debt.

“The Aa2 rating reflects the district’s moderately sized tax base with a strong demographic profile, stable financial position with ample reserves, and affordable debt burden with rapid payout,” Moody’s said.

Codge Whitting, chairman of the board of fire commissioners, said last month that providing the information was delayed by a medical problem experienced by its auditor.

Locust Valley was one of eight fire districts or municipalities, including four in New York State, the rating agency removed from ratings for failing to provide sufficient financial information.

“I’m happy that we were able to resolve the discrepancy and that Moody’s has reinstated our bond rating,” Whitting said. “They were very accommodating." -- BILL BLEYER

Fire district gets high Moody’s rating

Moody’s Investors Service has confirmed the Aa3 rating on East Meadow Fire District’s $900,000 in outstanding general obligation debt and removed the rating from review.

Moody’s assigned the Aa3 rating — considered high quality and very low credit risk — after incorporating the district’s sizable tax base, adequate reserve levels, and low debt burden. The bonds are secured by the district’s tax pledge as limited by the state’s property tax cap legislation.

The international credit rating agency placed the rating under review with direction uncertain on Dec. 27 due to the lack of audited fiscal 2012 financial information, which has since been received.

Moody’s cited high revenue and expenditure predictability and low debt burden as strengths. The district’s challenges include its history of delayed financial reporting.

The district’s rating could go up because of a trend of steady growth in the district’s tax base and significant increase and maintenance of total fund balance. The rating could go down due to large declines in the district’s tax base and deterioration of general fund reserve levels. -- AISHA AL-MUSLIM

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