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Manorhaven Village finances improve; S&P removes village debt from watch list

A Google street view image of the Manorhaven

A Google street view image of the Manorhaven Village Hall. Credit: Google

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has removed Manorhaven Village from a Wall Street credit watch list and assigned a "stable" outlook to its debt, citing the village's improved financial status.

The report issued last month, which affirmed the village's A+ underlying rating for general obligation debt, comes after a state audit early last year labeling the village as being in "significant fiscal stress."

Officials from the ratings agency said in their report that an $885,000 surplus helped build a general fund balance of $152,000, which has not been audited.

An "A" category rating indicates a "strong capacity to meet financial commitments, but somewhat susceptible to adverse economic conditions and changes in circumstances," according to the S&P website.

"We have constantly worked over the last two years toward finding ways of improving not only our fiscal foundation but also the quality of life for all our residents," Mayor Giovanna Giunta said in a news release announcing the report earlier this month. "We are happy the S&P rating is reflective of these initiatives."

But the report also found that the village's budgetary flexibility is "very weak." Manorhaven officials used reserves from the general fund to pay for nonrecurring expenditures, the report noted, adding that using those funds contributed to a $777,000 deficit in the general fund at the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

The general fund in 2013 was $3,703,472, according to village clerk-treasurer Leslie Gross. She noted that one-time expenses included superstorm Sandy costs and payment for a lawsuit from a previous administration. Officials from the ratings agency note in the report that the unaudited $885,000 surplus in 2014 is partially due to reimbursement for Sandy expenses.

The report notes that the 2014-2015 budget of $4,040,033 is balanced and that the $152,000 general fund balance represents an "adequate" 3.9 percent of the 2014 fiscal expenditures.

A February audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli listed Manorhaven among four villages in New York to be in "significant fiscal stress."

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