Brookhaven officials announced a major win for the town, and ultimately for the community, during a meeting last week.
Financial services agency Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings upgraded the town’s credit rating from AA+ to AAA, the highest designation the agency issues. It also classified Brookhaven’s credit future as having a “stable outlook.”
The AA+ rating, which was issued in March 2015, came with a “positive outlook.”
“A municipality’s credit rating is an important and reliable indicator of its fiscal health determined by independent and objective fiscal monitors,” a statement from the town said. “A higher credit rating saves money on borrowings in the form of lower interest costs.”
Brookhaven Town Commissioner of Finance Tamara Wright said during a town board meeting last week that the credit report was based on a review of the town’s 2014 and 2015 financial statements that had gone on for about four weeks.
“I would just like to thank [Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R)] for his leadership, his steady hand,” Wright said. “He makes our job at the finance office easy because he supports our initiatives and our controls. I also would like to thank the town board for the support they give our office. I would like to recognize each employee in the finance office. It’s the little decisions they make every single day, every control decision that leads to this kind of financial performance.”
The Standard & Poor’s report said the town has strong management and financial policies and a well-defined five-year capital improvement plan, and commended the town for paying off retirement system debt while maintaining fund balance reserves.
“It means a lot,” Romaine said on Tuesday in a phone interview.
The supervisor added that he is delighted by the rating. “It’s kind of like a report card from Wall Street saying the town is in pretty good financial condition.”
Romaine credited the financial department and the board for their hard work in making the rating possible.
“It sends a clear message that their elected officials are keeping a promise to cut spending and run the town more efficiently,” Romaine said in a statement. “Our conservative fiscal policies have the led the way to financial stability and I am proud to say that we continue to save millions of taxpayer dollars while still providing the services that our residents deserve.”
Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who serves as the board’s liaison to finance, also had some positive words.
“I commend the supervisor for his leadership and fiscal discipline which has resulted in Standard & Poor’s highest credit rating,” Bonner said in a statement. “I am happy to have played a role in this great success and I look forward to working with him and his staff to further improve our financial position.”
Suffolk County’s own credit rating was lowered in October 2015 from A+ to A, making Brookhaven’s upgrade more noteworthy. Romaine called this “the first time in a while” the town has received a AAA rating.
The supervisor also vowed during last week’s board meeting to chip in to pay for a luncheon for members of the town’s finance department.