Improved Utica fiscal stress score hailed

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UTICA — The city of Utica’s fiscal stress score, measured by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System, improved by nearly 10 points, from 15.8 to 6.3, according to an announcement today by city officials. The improvement was lauded by the comptroller as well as Utica leaders.

DiNapoli’s office analyzes local government fiscal data, such as level of fund balance, to determine its susceptibility to fiscal stress and provides municipalities a score based on those factors. In 2012, Utica had a negative fund balance, a multi-million-dollar budget deficit and downgraded credit ratings from all three leading financial institutions; Moody’s, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global.

As a result, the city’s projected fiscal stress score was 70.8, which was indicative of significant fiscal stress at that time. That same year, Mayor Robert Palmieri met with DiNapoli and his team in Albany and provided insight and recommendations as to how Utica could improve its finances.

The city crafted a financial recovery plan and, over the past 10 years, implemented fiscal policies which has resulted in nine consecutive budget surpluses and a fund balance that now stands at more than $11 million.

On Thursday, officials announced that with a score of 6.3, the city has no fiscal stress designation. In addition, the city’s credit rating has been upgraded by Moody’s, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global. “We launched our Fiscal Stress Monitoring System to alert local communities of red flags and growing signs of fiscal problems,” DiNapoli said. “Mayor Palmieri and his team acted on our warning and took long-term, deliberate steps to improve Utica’s finances. His efforts are clearly working, and I commend him for this impressive turnaround.”

“Through partnerships and collaboration, we have built a solid financial foundation,” Palmieri said. “I will continue to work with my colleagues in government to ensure Utica’s financial improvement continues.”

“By every measure, whether it be State Comptroller DiNapoli’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System or reports from financial rating institutions, Utica’s financial position has greatly improved over the years,” said City Comptroller Bill Morehouse. “I commend Mayor Palmieri and city staff on this great achievement as we work to ensure Utica’s financial position remains strong moving forward.”

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