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Forest preserves improve bond rating

Friday, October 15, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON

It's not often "improved financial management" and "successful fiscal reforms" go with the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

But Thursday, further solidifying claims it has brought its books under control, the district released reports from three independent bond agencies, each of which improved the district's bond ratings.

That means investors have more confidence in district management, which means the district can borrow money at a lower interest rate, which ultimately means less of a burden on county taxpayers.

Moody's Investor Services, Standard & Poors and Fitch Ratings each improved the district's bond rating, offering kudos for noticeable improvement in financial management and debt balancing.

In a news release, Board President John Stroger said "in both the political and economic times we are in, this objective, third-party review of our financial management practices" proves there's been a change.

Still, critics say while books are balanced, most of the funds used to erase a $16 million deficit came as gifts from the Stroger-led County Board. They also point to the continued use of the district as a haven for patronage hires.



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