East Hampton, the New York beach town where billionaire Ronald Perelman and fashion designer Calvin Klein own homes, had its credit rating raised one level by Moody’s Investors Service.
The company lifted the Long Island town’s grade to Aa3, fourth highest, on about $115 million in debt. It cited improved finances over the last three years and “strong wealth and income levels.” The town of more than 21,000 residents on Long Island’s southern shore is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Manhattan.
“The stable outlook reflects our view that the town’s financial position will continue to stabilize given strong budgeting and formal policies to maintain ample reserves,” Moody’s said in a statement.
East Hampton is expected to sell about $2 million in general-obligation bonds as soon as Aug. 19.
East Hampton’s improving finances are heading in the opposite direction of its home county of Suffolk (8320MF:US), which was downgraded in May to A2, five grades below top-rated debt. The move came after the county failed to meet fiscal 2012 year-end budget estimates and planned to use one-time revenue to balance its 2013 spending plan.
Three years ago, when William Wilkinson took office as supervisor, East Hampton had a $27 million deficit, the 63-year-old Republican said by phone. Wilkinson, the former head of human resources for Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US), said he cut the town departments to 13 from 26, lowered the workforce by more than 100 positions through voluntary leave and attrition, and renegotiated labor contracts.
“When I came into office, I was under a lot of pressure to look at bankruptcy and other options,” Wilkinson said. “We brought this thing back from death.”
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