Troy officials are touting news that the city’s bond credit rating received an "improved outlook" for the second year in a row.
In early 2016, the New York State Comptroller released an audit that showed the city of Troy's finances were in dire straits, thanks to poor budgeting, the overuse of rainy day funds to fund day-to-day operations, and insufficient funding for capital costs.
Mayor Patrick Madden, a first-term Democrat, says he began looking for ways to plug the financial leaks and address the shortcomings on his first day in office. "Moody's bond rating agency has re-examined the city of Troy and has moved not the rating but the outlook from 'stable' to 'positive.' So when we came into office two years ago we had an A2 rating that was negative. Last year we were able to get that up to 'stable' and this year we moved it up to 'positive.'"
Madden says people won’t perceive any sort of immediate impact from the change. "This is uh, taking a temperature and actually looking forward. I think it's very good news. I think it represents independent confirmation that we're doing the right things, we're getting the city's fiscal house back in order, and Moody's agrees."
Madden and Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello often don't see eye-to-eye. Mantello, who chairs the Council's Finance Committee, says while she is pleased with the news that the bond rating has improved, she worries about what citizens have had to bear. "Through a double-digit tax increase and the newly-imposed garbage fee. So saying that, moving forward I'll continue to be the watchdog in checks and balances on the Council side, and continue working very hard to protect the taxpayers interests."
Madden attributes the improved outlook to his administration's budget strategy. He believes Moody's took into consideration those financial decisions he has overseen or made as mayor, including the ones Mantello criticized. "I think that they are impressed of our approach to fiscal discipline, how we budget. We budget based on facts, not wishes or hopes. We don't rely on one-shots. It's about making sure that recurring expenses are covered by recurring revenues. It's about not deferring today's bills to next year's. It's growing our tax base, it's developing internal accountability. All of those things go into the mix."
Removal of the negative outlook was a top priority for Madden.