(La Porte County, IN) - The A+ credit rating of the La Porte County government has evaporated from another alleged mistake by the La Porte County Auditor cited as to blame.
La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman said the county government would not be able to secure a bond issue to finance a significant project with the credit rating in shambles.
“We couldn’t go on the credit market right now,” Friedman said.
La Porte County government enjoyed an A+ credit rating from S&P Global Ratings until the esteemed financial agency withdrew the rating, according to a June 14 statement released by S&P Global Ratings.
According to S&P Global Ratings, the La Porte County government was one of 27 local governments and utility systems nationwide to have their credit ratings withdrawn.
“The withdrawals reflect our failure to receive adequate and timely financial information necessary to maintain surveillance of the ratings in accordance with our applicable criteria and policies,” the company stated.
Specifically, Friedman said Stabosz failed to meet the deadline for providing S&P Global Ratings a copy of the 2019 Indiana State Board of Accounts audit of county government ledgers to help the company update its credit rating for the county government.
Friedman said Stabosz received an e-mail on April 4 from Standard & Poor Global Ratings warning the county faced being placed on CreditWatch on April 22 and the possible loss of its credit rating. However, Friedman said Stabosz never notified his office, the county commissioners, or the county council.
Friedman said he only learned about the credit rating being in jeopardy on June 13 when he received a “panicked call” from Stabosz asking for help with the situation.
Friedman said he could get the state audit report S&P Global Ratings was waiting for the next day, but S&P Global Ratings had already “stripped our credit rating.”
“An unbelievable embarrassment for this county,” Friedman said.
Friedman also blamed a late bond payment from Stabosz in 2021 on S&P Global Ratings questioning whether to reevaluate its A+ credit rating for the county government. He said the mistake by Stabosz, along with a late bond payment from him last year and an error in property tax calculations by his office this year, is from the auditor being too focused on reviewing his billings for work he performs for county government.
He also blamed Commissioner Joe Haney for teaming up with Stabosz to review his billings which had never been done in his many years as county attorney.
“This Auditor and Commissioner Haney have some nerve challenging on a monthly basis who I speak to, who I e-mail to and what I do as County Attorney when this Auditor is MIA (missing in action) on his own duties and has allowed these messes that are costing taxpayers dearly to occur on his watch,” Friedman said.
Friedman said an effort is underway to restore the A+ credit rating.
“We can all thank heavens we don’t have to go out into the bond market right now because we don’t have a credit rating,” Friedman said.
Friedman added that there is no need to float a bond issue right now because the county government is financially solvent with adequate cash in reserves.
Stabosz has not paid Friedman slightly more than $30,000 of the work cited in his claims over the past several months.
Stabosz said he needed more information from Friedman to verify the work Friedman performed was legitimate, but Friedman has refused to give him the information.
Friedman said Stabosz is using his public office to settle personal vendettas and score political points. Stabosz has denied those claims.