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Cook County expects bond rating downgrade

Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

It looks like Cook County is getting a credit downgrade from Moody's, the big New York bond rater. But Team Stroger is putting an interesting spin on the development.

   According to the county, a draft of Moody's latest report indicates the Cook rating will be dropped a notch, from Aa2 to Aa3. The draft, which Moody's is not yet releasing or confirming, reportedly cites the weak national and local economy and underfunding of the county's employ pension fund.

   The spin: A spokeswoman for County President Todd Stroger says the negative rating is proof that the county really does need revenue from the sales-tax hike he pushed through -- the one that a board majority has been trying to repeal in a series of moves Mr. Stroger keeps blocking with his veto.

   A credit rating is bad news for us because it means the county will have to pay higher interest to borrow, with those charges passed on to taxpayers.

   I'll bet the board majority has a different take on the impending Moody's action. But I'll wait for the report to be official first. Stay tuned.


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