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North Hempstead's high bond rating reaffirmed by Moody's Investor Service

Moody's Investor Services has reaffirmed North Hempstead's Aa1 bond rating -- its highest in town history.

The national ratings agency assigned the rating to the town's $25.1 million in Various Purposes Serial Bonds and called the outlook "stable." The agency said it maintains that same rating on $237 million worth of previously issued, long-term general obligation debt.

Moody's said in the report it expects "the town's conservative fiscal management practices will support healthy operating performance and maintenance of a strong financial position, despite reported softening of the regional real estate market."

The agency highlighted "conservative budgeting and maintenance of solid reserve levels," and the town's "large wealthy tax base with ample local employment opportunities and commutability to New York City."

Challenges cited in the report include the town's "moderate exposure to economically-sensitive revenues which has challenged budgetary operations," and a "history of pension amortization."

Town officials said they will reduce the pension amortization in the proposed 2015 budget and in future years.

The report said the town's 10-year debt management plan "is expected to further reduce the debt burden through annual retirement in excess of new debt issuance."

Creditors also note the past fiscal year ended with an operating fund increase of $3.1 million, "driven by the improved operations in the General Fund." Town officials said this refers to an increase in unassigned fund balances to $3.693 million.

Moody's also said it expects "improved performance," at the town's Solid Waste Management Authority.

"This endorsement from Moody's reflects the hard work by this administration to keep the Town on a solid financial footing," said Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth in a news release. "This bond rating enables us to keep low interest on our debt, lowering costs for taxpayers."

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