Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. announced today that initial closeout figures indicate that East Haven closed the 2017-2018 fiscal year with a $409,376.00 dollar operating surplus - the Town's seventh consecutive operating surplus since Maturo resumed office in 2011 and the seventeenth surplus for Maturo since 1997.
Maturo explained, "This past budget was, without a doubt, the most difficult in my seventeen years as Mayor due to the loss of over $1.2 million dollars in funding from the State of Connecticut under the State's "Municipal Revenue Sharing" and "Circuit Breaker" programs. Nevertheless, thanks to our conservative fiscal policies, we are projecting a modest but strong surplus of approximately $409,736.00 dollars for the fiscal year which closed on June 30, 2018."
According to the Finance Department's final projections, revenue for the '17-'18 fiscal year totaled $87,751,071.00 million and total expenditures, including the Board of Education, totaled $87,341,695.00 million, resulting in an operating surplus of $409,376.00. The projected $409,376.00 dollar surplus will be credited to the Town's rainy day fund, raising that fund from $5.43 million to $5.84 million dollars, its highest level since 2007.
Maturo continued, "Given the State's dismal fiscal climate and the unpredictability of State funding, it has been more difficult than ever to maintain a balanced budget. This past budget year, our community lost $357,240.00 in State funding for the "Circuit Breaker" program for our seniors and $854,319.00 in "municipal revenue sharing funding" which subsidizes a host of local initiatives. However, despite losing that funding, we didn't eliminate programs. We tightened our belts, found savings in other departments, and stepped in to make up the $1.2 million dollar shortfall from the State."
Maturo noted, "For a community of our size, running a $409,376.00 dollar surplus is an incredible accomplishment when you have to overcome a $1.2 million dollar hole in the budget."
Over the past seven years, the Town's fund balance, or rainy day fund, has grown from just $201,000.00 dollars in 2011 to a healthy $5.84 million dollars as of 2018, an increase of almost 2,900%."
Town Finance Director Paul Rizza noted, "National credit rating agencies like 'Standard and Poor's' generally recommend that municipalities maintain a minimum fund balance of no less than five percent (5%) of their operating budgets. The gold standard in today's rocky municipal environment is ten percent (10%). The Town's $5.84 million dollar fund balance represents 6.37% of our operating budget, putting our community well on its way to reaching that 10% 'gold standard.'"
Maturo continued, "Since 2011, national credit agencies have taken note of the concrete initiatives we've implemented to rebuild our savings and reduce our debt and they have rewarded us for our hard work. In August of 2014, Standard and Poor's awarded the Town an increase in its credit rating from 'BBB+' to 'A-'. In 2016, Standard and Poor's awarded the Town an historic two-tier bond rating upgrade from 'A-' to 'A+.' With better credit, we've been able to both refinance existing debt and take on new debt at significantly lower interest rates, which has allowed us to keep taxes stable while still expanding services and investing in our infrastructure. In fact, since 2015, we've invested over $8.3 million dollars into over 90 small and large-scale infrastructure projects across Town."
According to Town estimates, the Town's long term debt will stand at approximately $22.25 million dollars as of July 1, 2019 - a reduction of 53.7% from the staggering $48.10 million dollars in debt that the Town was carrying just seven years ago."
In announcing the news of the Town's continued financial success, Maturo also cautioned that additional State cuts could present budgetary challenges in crafting the 2019-2020 budget.
Maturo cautioned, "As we turn our attention to crafting the 2019-2020 budget, we're going to be looking long and hard at our State aid figures to ensure we budget appropriately."
Maturo concluded, "Since 1997, my administration has charted a steady fiscal course for our community, a course which has enabled the Town to preserve and expand vital services for our residents despite the State's fiscal mess. Moving forward, we will continue our efforts to limit borrowing, improve our infrastructure, and increase services while doing our best to keep taxes low and stable for the benefit of all of our taxpayers."