Moody's will warn it could downgrade Montco again

Moody's Investors Service plans to issue a warning that it is considering another credit-rating downgrade for wealthy suburban Montgomery County, outside Philadelphia. The rating agency had cut the county's top triple-A rating a notch as deficits rose in the previous county budget; it's considering another cut, according to a report that could be released as early as today.

"They say we’re making progress, but not fast enough," county finance director Uri Monson told me. "They gave us credit for reducing the deficit from $27 million" during the last year of the previous administration "to $7 million" under the current group. But Moody's is also concerned about the "depleted general fund reserve" and past failures to fund the county pension system (payments have been increased in the past year.)

Under Democratic commissioners chairman Josh Shapiro and Republican Bruce Castor, who has made some common ground with the majority Democrats, Montgomery has sold real estate, leased offices and consolidated services to cut its deficit. County officials also hope to grow out of the recent squeeze as local planners have approved a string of new apartment complexes in Lower Merion Township and commercial developments in Upper Merion, Towamencin and elsewhere.