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Hempstead Town gets Moody's highest bond rating

Moody's Investor Services has awarded Hempstead Town its highest bond rating - one that tops those of all other towns, cities and counties on Long Island, according to Supervisor Kate Murray.

Hempstead already enjoys the top rating from Standard & Poor's, another Wall Street credit rating agency. With the Moody's upgrade, made Friday, taxpayers can expect savings through reduced interest rates on bonds and on the refinancing of town debt.

"The upgrade to Moody's highest quality rating reflects the town's prudent fiscal management characterized by conservative budgeting practices," Moody's stated in awarding the new rating.

Murray said both Moody's and Standard & Poor's had been particularly impressed this year with how the town's workforce, reduced due to the recession, had been creatively deployed to ensure the maintenance of services.

Using personnel from the towns' conservation and waterways and parks departments to aid road crews cleaning up after the nor'easter of March 13 is one example, Murray said. "They loved it," she said. "They thought it was an intriguing and interesting way to use staff."

In coming weeks, Murray said the town expects to refinance roughly $15 million in road repair bonds. With the new Moody's rating in place, she said taxpayers will realize a savings of just over $1 million on the debt.

Murray likened the upgrade, on top of having the highest rating from Standard & Poor's, to winning the World Series. She said she was particularly proud given the strain the economy has put on governments.

"A bad economy is no excuse for a bad budget," Murray said. "It's been painful, it's been hard, but it can be done if you are really hawkish on the bottom line."

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