In January of 2012, I shared information regarding the City’s efforts to do “more with less” during the Great Recession. This year, I’m pleased to share that the City has continued its commitment to fiscally prudent policies and actions in conjunction with a balanced budget.
General Fund expenditures peaked at a level of $42.7 million for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2008 and were at a level of $37.7 million at April 30, 2010. Vigilance continued during fiscal year 2011 as well with expenditures totaling just under $40 million, approximately 6.3% lower than the fiscal 2008 level. During this time frame, financial operations in the General Fund were balanced with expenditure levels essentially equal to the City’s revenue streams.
I am extremely pleased to report that the City’s strong financial performance continued into 2012, with expenditure levels falling to $38.58 million, a 3.50% reduction as compared to fiscal year 2011 amounts and nearly 10% below the 2008 level. And, these reductions have been made with no significant impact on the services and programs offered by the City of St. Charles.
Additionally, the City’s revenues continued their record of strong performance ending at a level of $38.65 million, resulting in a surplus of over $120,000 for the fiscal year. Sales and Use Tax revenues increased by 3.80% to a level of $14.6 million as the economy continued its slow but steady recovery.
I am particularly proud that the City has been able to achieve these financial results while holding its property tax levy at a consistent level. The 2012 levy that the City will collect during 2013 represents the 5th consecutive year that the City’s operating property tax levy has been at a level of $12 million. This feat, coupled with the expenditure cuts enacted, underscores the City’s commitment to fiscal prudence and responsibility.
The table and chart included with this column reflect the City’s recent history of balancing its operations based on revenue and expenditure streams. General Fund reserves now stand at a level of approximately $16.2 million, representing 42% of expenditure levels. This level of reserves is well in excess of the required 25% policy maintained by the City Council and provides an adequate cushion against future fluctuations in revenue levels.
Ever mindful of cutting costs, the City was also active in refinancing bonds. During 2012, the City refinanced $13 million in General Obligation Bonds. Refinancing a bond works in the same manner as refinancing a mortgage wherein the principal amount of the debt is financed at lower interest rates resulting in savings on interest costs and lower payment amounts over the life of the bond. Taxpayers will save over $2.4 million in interest costs between now and 2025 due to recent refinancing activity, an average of almost $190,000 annually.
Outside parties are also noticing the City’s commitment to excellence in its financial matters. Moody’s Investor Service re-affirmed the City’s Aa1 debt rating in September and again in December citing “strong financial operations and solid reserve levels,” and “a demonstrated history of reacting to budgetary challenges” in its report. Additionally, the City also received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting as awarded by the Government Finance Officers Association for its fiscal year 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial report. This marked the 26th consecutive year that the City has received this honor.
The facts speak for themselves. The City had made the right decisions in managing the City’s finances and City officials have been responsible stewards of your money. Budgets have consistently been balanced and the City has acted in a fiscally prudent manner to assure the continued excellent financial health of the City of St. Charles.