At the last Ramapo Town Board meeting, Bill Weber spoke during the public participation portion of the Ramapo Town Board meeting. He questioned Supervisor St. Lawrence about the most recent Moody’s report which indicated that the Town of Ramapo was at risk of having its bond rating withdrawn or lowered due to the fact that they have not completed and filed their 12/31/2015 audited financial statements. Weber reminded St. Lawrence and the board that the town’s current bond rating is A3 and any further reduction would most likely put the bond rating somewhere in the B category, which would be a terrible outcome for the taxpayers of Ramapo.
Bill also questioned St. Lawrence about the hiring of a second accounting firm, as noted on their continuing disclosures that they filed on 1/1/2017 (as required by the SEC). St. Lawrence confirmed that the town currently has two accounting firms working to complete the 2015 and 2016 financial statements. He also stated that they intend on getting everything completed and submitted to Moody’s by the end of the month. Webster expressed the hope that the town meets this deadline and will update everyone as more information becomes available.
The questions were the result of a Moody’s Investors Service rating action notice. On January 3, Moody’s notified Ramapo of the problem: “The review, they wrote, “is prompted by the lack of sufficient, current financial information. If the information is not received over the next 30 days, we will take appropriate rating action which could include the withdrawal or lowering of the ratings.”
“The Town of Ramapo has a developing outlook reflecting uncertainty around the eventual outcome of the federal charges, including the possibility that the town’s financial position could be materially different than what was presented in previous audited financial statements.
The Journal News pointed out the following about the previous Ramapo auditor:
“Ramapo’s previous auditor was Mamaroneck-based PKF O’Connor Davies. In October, the Westchester firm and one of its senior partners agreed to pay more than a half-million dollars in penalties related to issuing fraudulent audit reports in connection with municipal bonds sought by Ramapo for the construction of its baseball stadium.”
Note: Bill Weber ran for a Town Board position in the last election and was defeated by St. Lawrence’s choice for the position Samuel Tress. Tress won on the strength of the bloc vote, but soon after he took his seat on the Board, evidence submitted by Preserve Ramapo to the Rockland District Attorney resulted in the indictment of Tress on several counts. It was the second time Samuel Tress was charged with felonies, and this action resulted in his guilty plea and removal from the Board. No apology to the public was offered by Supervisor St. Lawrence, who is facing 44 federal counts. The board also remained, characteristically, silent on the matter.