[JK:I received this release from the Finance Office]
S&P Ratings Says Saratoga Springs is AA+ for Sixth Consecutive Year!
MEDIA ANNOUNCEMENT: June 6, 2017 Contact: Commissioner of Finance, Michele Madigan Telephone: (518) 587-3550 ext 2577; (518) 526-9377 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org STANDARD & POOR’S SAYS SARATOGA SPRINGS IS AA+ for Sixth Consecutive Year! Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan is pleased to report that Standard & Poor’s Rating Services (S&P) awarded the City a “AA+” for 2017 and affirmed its “AA+” rating on the City’s outstanding bonds. An exceptional rating for a municipality, this is the sixth consecutive year that the City has received AA+, all during Madigan’s tenure as Commissioner of Finance. Likewise, S&P retained the City’s “stable outlook”, as well as its Financial Management Practice Assessment of “good”. S&P describes the City as a “commercial and industrial center for the surrounding areas as well as a popular summer destination due to Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, and Saratoga Performing Arts Center”. In the course of its analysis of the City, S&P considered the following qualities: Very strong economy; Strong management conditions, with “good” financial policies and practices; Very strong budgetary flexibility;
Very strong economy;
Adequate budgetary performance, but given the city’s history of adequate to strong budgetary performance, we expect the city to maintain or slightly improve its current budgetary performance levels; Very strong liquidity, as well as strong access to external liquidity; Strong institutional framework. S&P states “We consider Saratoga Springs’ economy very strong…We view the city’s management as strong, with good financial policies and practices…Management is conservative with revenue and expenditure assumptions…Budgetary flexibility is very strong with an available fund balance in fiscal 2016 of 26% of operating expenditures, or 11.2 million…The city has consistently had very strong liquidity and we do not expect a change to these ratios.” Commissioner Madigan states: “The City and its taxpayers are benefiting from the excellent policies, practices, budgeting and fiscal management of my administration. I will continue to lead with the conservative fiscal practices and sustainable City budgeting that protects the City’s AA+ rating. It is critical to all departments and our constituents as we strive to improve City infrastructure, maintain beautiful historic buildings, provide trails, recreation and open space, and keep the City safe. I am very proud of this outstanding bond rating and pleased to bring it home to the City of Saratoga Springs.”
A full report will be delivered to the City Council and the public at the June 6, 2017 City Council Meeting.
Commissioner of Finance
City of Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
518-587-3550 ext. 2557
5 thoughts on “Standard and Poor’s Has Issued AA+ Rating to the City”
The reason the cities gets such high financial ratings is because the portions of the current charter were written by one member of that charter commission,Mark Lawton, who had long experience in the N Y S financial agencies. I find it interesting that our current Finance Commissioner takes so much credit for the city’s achievements. I hope that in your blog you will remind your readers that he policies in the charter are a critical element of the city’s ratings. It is too bad that the city commissioners do not address other sections in the charter which they are not implementing, i.e. a human resource department and an administrator of Parks, Open Lands and historic Preservation.
Margie—As someone has pointed out in another comment, others have served as Commissioner of Finance since Mark Lawton revised that section of the charter but without the success Commissioner Madigan has had so I think she does indeed deserve a lot of the credit for the city’s exceptional economic health.
As to the other sections of the charter you mentioned, they are being implemented. Tina Carton is currently serving as administrator of Parks, Open Lands, and Historic Preservation. My understanding is that the most recent Human Resource director has left the city and there is now a search going on for a replacement. In the meantime an HR consulting company is working for the city. During Commissioner Madigan’s tenure in office funding has been ensured for both the HR and POSH positions.
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As compared to her predecessor? Seriously??? Puh-leeeease!!!!
Yeah, that’s the ticket. Our great financial condition is all due to the brilliant charter language of the awesome Mark Lawton. In fact no one could screw up our finances because of his greatness at controlling things without ever even sitting on the council.
Oh wait, what about the guy Madigan beat? How do explain his performance despite the charter’s genius?
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Comm. Madigan and her staff – particularly Lynn Bachner and Christine Brown – can justifiably take credit for injecting some discipline – particularly in the area of realistic revenue projections – in the budgeting process. Previously, in the 2008 and 2009 operating budgets, the then commissioner used layoffs in the fire and police services and elsewhere, the budgeting of non-existing revenue (on-street metered, paid parking, for example) and real property tax increases to deliver a balanced spending plan.
We recall mid-year calls from the then administration to reduce staff, particularly in Public Safety, to off-set unrealized revenue.
That was followed by the realization that a fundamental failure to understand the ebb and flow of other revenues and expenditures
actually resulted in a surplus.
Those budgets were prepared and administered under the same Charter that has guided the budgets Comm. Madigan has prepared. Sound budgets, built on honest revenue and realistic expenditure projections, are not simply the result of the “process” but also, and more importantly, by those who “understand” the process.
Also, it is now undisputed that those who previously exercised a little political moxie and opted out of the so-called County sales tax agreement in 2002 (actually there were four over the years and each successive “agreement” reduced our share) should be credited with increasing sales tax revenue from the then static $7+/- million to the now nearly $12.6 + million and growing.
So, it seems to me, that while process is important, it is the quality and competency of those elected to work within the process that is more important. This is not to sell Mark Lawton’s work on the 2000-01 Charter Revision Commission short, but to simply suggest that structure alone does not result in good outcomes or good public policy. If so, the Country wouldn’t be in the mess it is.
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