Anderson County under credit scrutiny by Moody's

By: Mario Boone Email
By: Mario Boone Email

ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- "It is a worry and it is a concern," said business owner Cinnamon Kennedy. She isn't talking about the ice box in her restaurant. She's worried about Anderson County's financial problems.

Moody's placed Anderson on "negative watch" in response to the county's dwindling reserve fund, now below $1-million. "It was the result of some decisions we made over the past three or four years to use our fund balance to balance the budget," said Mayor Myron Iwanski.

The next step, a possible credit downgrade, which could cost taxpayers more in interest. "I really wish that all of our politicians would be adamant about spending less," Kennedy said. Iwanski says leaders are doing just that.

"We made significant cuts to our budget this year to balance it. Yet Kennedy still fears what a credit downgrade would mean for her business, and her customers. "Ultimately it would mean that our customers pay more, and we have to pay more for our services."

Iwanski says he and other elected officials are prepared to take drastic measures to prevent a credit downgrade. "We put measures in place to make it more difficult to use that fund balance money in the future." Like requiring a super majority of the county commission to approve dipping into reserve funds. "Our bond issuing agencies said we're not about to have our credit drop," said the mayor, trying to reassure taxpayers.

Skeptical Anderson County Tea Party members released a statement saying: "Anderson County seems to have persistent and significant financial problems. Robbing rainy day funds is a result of poor administration."

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