In January, Newton became one of an elite number of communities to receive a AAA-Stable bond rating from both Moody’s Investors Service and Standard and Poor.
In their report, Standard and Poor’s highlighted the very strong economy, strong management, strong budgetary performance, very strong budgetary flexibility, very strong liquidity, very strong debt and contingent liability profile, and strong institutional framework.
“In developing the budget, the city references 10 years of historical data as well as projections contained within the long-term financial plan,” the Standard and Poor statement said. “Assumptions have generally been conservative, leading to a track record of balanced budgets. As early as 2010, the city adopted a form of zero-based budgeting to better align rising expenditures with a consistent revenue profile. As a result, expenditures that were not tied to performance outcomes were streamlined.”
Moody’s Investor Services cited Newton’s “sound financial policies and conservative budgeting approach; strong fiscal management including plans to aggressively fund pension and OPEB liabilities,” saying that “additionally, the city is committed to an aggressive funding strategy that includes a pension funding date of 2029.”
“The announcements from Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services and Moody’s Investors Service affirm the hard work that we have done to ensure our long-term financial sustainability,” said Newton Mayor Setti Warren. “Since taking office six years ago, we have established a rainy day stabilization reserve and adopted aggressive funding schedules to address our long-term liabilities. The strength of our financial position is what is allowing us to pursue an unprecedented building program, which includes five new elementary schools in six years, the rebuilding of antiquated Fire Stations; a record amount of road and sidewalk repair; while continuing to rank as one of the safest cities in the country.
“This would not have been possible without the hard work and partnership of City Council Finance Chair Lenny Gentile and his colleagues, Comptroller David Wilkinson and CFO Maureen Lemieux,” Warren added.