Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine is shown on Oct....

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine is shown on Oct. 25, 2014. Brookhaven is one of two Long Island townships on Moody's list of 34 U.S. municipalities to flourish despite the economic downturn from the 2008 recession. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Long Island's two largest towns have made a New York bond ratings agency's list of 34 U.S. municipalities that have flourished despite the economic downturn spawned by the 2008 recession.

Brookhaven and Hempstead are the only townships on the list released Thursday in a 12-page report by Moody's Investors Service.

Moody's said it looked at 50 of the nation's largest municipalities by population and found 34 -- including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, D.C. -- had maintained stable or improved credit ratings during the past six years because of relatively healthy tax bases and strong management.

"During and in the wake of the U.S. recession, many large local governments in the country have proven just how resilient their credit quality has been to the systemic economic downturn and other challenges such as pension underfunding," the report said. "The inherent economic strength and effective financial management of these successful cities supported their resiliency since 2008."

Hempstead's rating was downgraded in April to Aa1, but its performance was considered stable because its rating had been upgraded in 2010. Brookhaven's rating improved to Aa2 from Aa3 in April 2010.

"What they're saying very clearly is that we have benefited from atypical tax base growth," Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said, citing new pharmaceutical businesses and light manufacturing in his town.

He added that Brookhaven has reduced its debt load over the past two years from 25 percent of the town budget to a projected 21 percent next year.

"That's a huge reduction in debt," Romaine said. "I've been working to reduce debt. I've been working to get rid of nonperforming assets."

Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said the town has reduced spending on its payroll and beefed up reserve funds. The town board receives monthly budget reports to keep track of ongoing expenses, she said.

"You have to keep a very eagle eye on your budget or it can fall away on you very easily," Murray said in an interview. "Strong reserves certainly offset a poor economy."

She added that the town has withstood the national economic downturn because of new housing developments, expansion at the Roosevelt Field shopping mall, and the addition of the Gallery at Westbury Plaza.

"We've had some very nice projects despite this bad economy," Murray said.

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LI unemployment rate up . . . Day trip to Ocean Beach . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

LI unemployment rate up . . . Day trip to Ocean Beach . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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