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Southampton officials 'terribly disappointed' town's bond rating isn't upgraded

Anna Throne-Holst is supervisor of Southampton Town. (July

Anna Throne-Holst is supervisor of Southampton Town. (July 18, 2011) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The Town of Southampton will remain at its current bond rating, falling short of officials’ hope that it would be upgraded to the highest level given government entities.

Moody’s Investors Service told the town Thursday it would remain at its current Aa1 rating, the firm’s second-highest rating.

While Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst called the rating good, she said “it’s disappointing and frankly perplexing” that the town was not upgraded to Aaa.

“We presented irrefutable evidence” that the town deserved to be in the top tier, she said.

Moody’s said the town’s rating “reflects the town’s strong financial management practices and demonstrated commitment to the replenishment of the town’s financial reserves.”

But it said the town needs to maintain a “healthy financial position” and warned a return to operating deficits could lead to a decrease in its bond rating.

The report said the town’s rating could go up if the town maintains its financial reserves.

Moody's spokesman David Jacobson called it a “very good report” for the town.

Southampton’s credit rating dropped in 2010 a notch but rose the next year to its current level.

A delegation of town officials traveled to Manhattan last month to lobby Moody’s to give Southampton its highest rating. Only 15 entities in New York have the Aaa rating, according to town officials.

The town board last month increased the amount the town has to carry in reserves, under law, to 17 percent, up from 10 percent.

“I will not disguise the fact I’m terribly disappointed,” Throne-Holst said. “My approach and management are not going to change. This is a town board that’s very cognizant and mindful this is the way we need to mind our p’s and q’s.”

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