City of Saratoga Springs Reports $1.2 Million Operating Surplus for 2018
Saratoga Springs, NY — Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan reports that for the seventh consecutive year, The City of Saratoga Springs closed the prior fiscal year in excellent financial position. Unaudited year-end figures reveal a 2018 annual operating surplus of $1.2 million, driven by a combination of increased revenue and lower-than-forecasted expenses. Commissioner Madigan stated, “I’m exceptionally proud of the City’s financial performance in 2018, as it reflects the collaborative, hard-working spirit currently imbuing City Hall. Despite increased personnel costs, a handful of underperforming revenue lines, and the costs associated with the lightning strike to City Hall this past August, the 2018 budget realized a surplus thanks to the strong performance of several departmental revenue lines and the continuing City-wide effort to keep expenses under-budget to the benefit of taxpayers. Additionally, the City benefitted from a strong local economy, which includes a record year for sales tax revenue. This surplus will roll into the City’s Fund Balance, and will ensure that City residents and businesses will continue to receive the exceptional and affordable services they have come to know, while the City remains fiscally well-positioned for the future.”
Actual 2018 revenue collected totaled $46.5 million, while actual 2018 expenditures totaled $45.3 million. “Each and every department did an exceptional job accomplishing goals on behalf of the community while managing their respective budgets. I commend each City Council member on their contribution to this achievement, and hope to see similar results in 2019,” the Commissioner stated.
For 2019, the City is required to have a General Fund unassigned, unappropriated Fund Balance between $4.7 million and $11.8 million. Unaudited figures indicate the City’s unassigned, unappropriated general Fund Balance as of year-end 2018 was $9.6 million, well within the required range. The City also has $3.2 million in restricted (also known as “assigned”) Fund Balance in the form of a retirement reserve, insurance reserve, capital reserves, and other miscellaneous reserves.
The Water Fund ended 2018 with an assigned, unappropriated Fund Balance of $3.1 million, which includes a 2018 operating surplus of $231,000. The Water Fund has reported an operating surplus in six of the prior seven years, meaning it is well-positioned to fund future projects or emergencies without sacrificing any resources or performance. The Sewer Fund reported an assigned unappropriated fund balance for 2018 of $2.0 million, which includes a planned 2018 operating deficit of $89,000 due to the increased costs driven by the County. Prior to 2018, the Sewer Fund reported a surplus in eight consecutive periods, allowing the fund flexibility to absorb the County-imposed increase without immediately passing the costs on to City’s sewer users.
Similar to years past, Madigan states that she will continue to evaluate ways to maintain the stable tax rates while allowing the City to prosper. “Through the months-long budget process, the Finance Department aims to accurately predict the City’s revenues and expenses as effectively as possible while still providing flexibility to manage priorities or emergencies that can occur post-budget approval. I must admit, a lightning strike to City Hall wasn’t an emergency I had specifically planned for, but I do think it is illustrative of how prudent financial planning, along with the combined efforts of every department and employee, allowed the City to respond to that event by not only being operational within three days’ time, but maintain a budget surplus for the year. During my time in office I have kept the property tax rate stable while carefully managing the City’s various reserves, strategically utilizing the capital market to support infrastructure needs at a low cost to taxpayers, and set aside funds in preparation of future expenses both planned and unforeseen.”
The City’s continued focus on its reserves over the last several years has contributed to its high bond rating of AA+ by Standard & Poor’s Rating Services and Aa2 by Moody’s Investor Services, and helped the City obtain low interest rates on bonds for capital projects.
A full presentation will be given by Commissioner Madigan on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at the regularly schedule City Council meeting, starting at 7:00pm at the Saratoga Springs Recreation Center located at 15 Vanderbilt Ave.