Moody's moves Allegheny County bond rating from 'negative' to 'stable'

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The credit agency Moody’s Investors Service has revised its outlook for Allegheny County’s general obligation rating, from “negative” to “stable,” and reaffirmed its A1 rating.

“It’s good news, and I think it’s reaffirmation from outside agencies who look very closely at the finances and the financial condition of the county, that we’re seeing improvement,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Moody’s said the revision “captures the progress the county has made in achieving structural balance in its financial operations, leading to stronger reserve levels and significantly less operating risk.”

The county recently received upgrades from Standard & Poor’s, and Mr. Fitzgerald credited the improvements in part to the county’s increased fund balance, at $5.7 million when Mr. Fitzgerald took office in 2012. It increased to $12.2 million by the end of 2012, and to $27.5 million by the end of 2013.

A fund balance of 5 percent, or $40 million for the county’s $817 million budget, is recommended.

County Controller Chelsa Wagner said her office had advocated for fiscal improvements, and in a statement said she was proud to see the county’s actions “have given ratings agencies and the markets increased confidence in what is going on in Allegheny County.”

Mr. Fitzgerald, in his news release, named 10 council members — both Democrats and Republicans — as contributing to the county’s fiscal plan.

Asked about the five not named — Democrats Barbara Daly Danko of Regent Square, Amanda Green Hawkins of Stanton Heights and Bill Robinson of the Hill District and Republicans Sue Means of Bethel Park and Heather Heidelbaugh, an at-large member from Mt. Lebanon — Mr. Fitzgerald called them “obstructionist,” citing as an example a December vote on a capital spending budget that was delayed.

Ms. Danko, who was a “no” vote in December because she disagreed with the process, said she believes she has done “as much as anyone on council to make sure we take the long view.”

“It’s unfortunate that he views people who don’t agree with him 100 percent of the time as obstructionist,” Ms. Danko said.

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707.

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