Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Repairing Utica?

Corks are popping at City Hall over the recent upgrade in Utica's Bond Rating, though the New York Times called it right:

Utica, N.Y., got a higher credit rating yesterday from Moody's Investors Service, albeit still a so-called junk rating, as the city prepares to sell new bonds next week.

Moody's raised its rating on Utica's general debt obligations to ''Ba3'' from ''B2.'' That's still a couple of notches below the minimum for investment-grade bonds.

Utica Bonds are still junk . . . That's hardly worth celebrating.
. . . The upgrade affects $23 million of general obligation bonds outstanding and $8.5 million in bonds the city plans to sell next week for public improvements.
Last week's OD reports on the mayor's excitement:
“We are on the road to repairing Utica,” Mayor David Roefaro said. “These are full-step increases, and that is a pretty good sign in bond rating industry.”
But before you raise a glass to celebrate the "repairs" and "public improvements" to come, read the last line of the story:
The new rating comes as the city prepares to sell $3.45 million in bonds to pay for the pensions of firefighters under the recently signed contract.
Nope . . . no repaired potholes or sidewalks . . . No improved street scapes . . . Nothing that will make Utica a more inviting place for people or businesses . . . But a sweetheart deal for some Firefighters who are probably pumping up their pensions with all the overtime generated by the city's ambulance service foisted on the taxpayers by the last administration (which may have increased revenues, but must have increased expenses even more).

Bonding for pensions is like taking out a loan to feed oneself. . . and city officials are dining on caviar. Money is being consumed, but not making "improvements" or "repairs."

Don't expect the improvement in Utica's bond rating to last long with this approach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very perceptive comment. Does it say more about the ineptness of the OD or the true fiscal condition of the City? The "junk" status of the City's bonds can only worsen as pension/ labor contracts grow and the Water Board revenue pot declines. In two to three years a monumental tax increase and/or a massive cut in services will occur.