By Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
OMAHA — It wasn’t Black Friday, but listening to the Suttle administration, it’s close.
According to the mayor’s office, one of the country’s prominent bond rating services has downgraded the city’s financial operation while a second firm kept things as is.
Mayor Jim Suttle calls the downgrade “a devastating blow for the taxpayers.”
Moody’s has lowered the city’s general obligation bond rating from Aaa to Aa1 due to Omaha’s “persistent under-funding of its pension obligations.”
Cavanaugh Macdonald — an actuary hired by the city — says while changes made in the police pension program are working, they are offset by the lack of changes in the fire pension.
Suttle and the city council have gone round and round on the pension fight.
Last year, the mayor and fire union agreed on a new contract, but the council rejected it and took over negotiations.
Those talks have gone nowhere, and at a news conference last month asking “where’s the deal,” Suttle warned that without a contract the city’s bond rating would be in jeopardy.
During that news conference, Suttle repeatedly blamed City Council member Jean Stothert — who is running for mayor against Suttle — for “leading the charge” and the council’s inability to reach an agreement with the union.
At that time Stothert told Nebraska Watchdog, “It’s really false and the mayor should know that.”
As for Friday’s ratings dip Stothert said, “The main reason the City Council rejected the fire contract is we felt that it did not have significant pension reform … increased contributions and reductions of benefits is vital.”
Finance Director Pam Spaccarotella, who earlier this month announced her resignation effective Nov. 1, said Moody’s decision “will negatively impact the city for years to come.”
Contact Joe Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org
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