Audit: Utica sees $2.6M budget surplus for past year

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UTICA — Mayor Robert Palmieri and Comptroller Bill Morehouse completed the financial audit for the mayor’s ninth fiscal year in office, showing an operating budget surplus of $2.6 million, according to an announcement by city officials.

Of the $2.6 million surplus, the Utica Common Council, in coordination with city administration, restricted $2 million for paving and capital improvements.

A breakdown of the city’s last nine fiscal years is as follows:

FY 2012-2013: $931,000 surplus

FY 2013-2014: $1.5 million surplus

FY 2014-2015: $345,000 surplus

FY 2015-2016: $750,000 surplus

FY 2016-2017: $377,000 surplus

FY 2017-2018: $531,000 surplus

FY 2018-2019: $667,029 surplus

FY 2019-2020: $1,089,014 surplus

FY 2020-2021: $2.6 million surplus

At the inception of the pandemic, Palmieri and Morehouse, in partnership with the common council, said they made difficult decisions to protect the city’s fiscal health.

The surplus for 2020-21 stems from the implementation of conservative budget practices, as well as the growth of Utica’s economy and the expansion of its tax base, despite the setbacks of the pandemic, Morehouse said.

In securing a ninth consecutive surplus, the city’s previously depleted unrestricted fund balance now stands at more than $11 million, its highest level in decades. While the city’s fund balance has not yet reached $12 million, the minimum level as recommended by the Government Finance Officers Association, Palmieri said it is a tremendous accomplishment considering the city’s fund balance was in the negative in 2011. Not only did fiscal year 2020-21 yield a surplus, but it also encompassed no tax increase.

As a result of the city’s continued fiscal responsibility, all of the three major financial credit rating institutions — Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, Fitch — have upgraded the city’s credit rating over the past several years with Moody’s recently upgrading the city’s fiscal outlook.

“In collaboration with Comptroller Morehouse, and other partners in city government, we have worked diligently to control expenses and foster a positive environment for economic growth and development,” Palmieri said. “I recognize and thank dedicated city staff for their hard work in securing a ninth consecutive budget surplus.”

Morehouse said the announcement is yet another example of how everyone is working together proactively to overcome the negative fiscal impact of the pandemic and strengthen the city’s financial position.

“Securing a surplus is a testament to strong leadership, the implementation of smart fiscal policies and cooperation throughout city government,” he said.

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