City of Burlington, Vermont City of Burlington, Vermont

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Finance

FY2016 Finance Updates

In FY2016, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the City of Burlington general obligation rating to A3; Stable Outlook from Baa2; Positive Outlook. This was a monumental accomplishment as it was a double upgrade. The upgrade to A3 rating reflects an improved financial position following three consecutive years of audited operating surplus, as well as the City’s strength as the economic center of Vermont. This rating also incorporates the manageable but increasing debt burden, and the enterprise risk associated with Burlington Telecom (BT).

 

Within the City Council-approved FY16 Annual Financial Statements (Audit), the auditors identify a General Fund unassigned fund balance of over $6.5M. Essentially, the unassigned fund balance is the yearover-year accumulated surplus within the General Fund. In FY15 the unassigned balance was approximately $4.3M, reduced to $3M after Council approved using about $1.3M for FY16 capital needs, and the unassigned balance has increased to approximately $6.5M for FY16. The FY16 audit showed a “netted surplus,” actual revenues over actual expenditures, for all General Fund accounts totaling around $3.5M. This surplus was primarily due to actual expenditures being below budget by almost $2.5M and revenues coming in above budget by approximately $1M. And, the FY16 “surplus” is netted due to the Council approving in the FY17 Budget Resolution, carrying forward and reserving about $1.2M of additional FY16 “surplus.”

 

The FY16 Auditor’s Management letter, approved and accepted by the City Council, shows significant improvement over FY15, and even more so from FY12.

 

The FY12 Management Letter listed 27 findings of which 12 were identified as a “Material Weakness” and one was a “Significant Deficiency.”

 

The FY13 Management Letter listed 17 findings of which 10 were identified as a “Material Weakness” and one was a “Significant Deficiency.”

 

The FY14 Management Letter listed nine findings of which four were identified as a “Material Weakness” and none listed as a “Significant Deficiency.”

 

The FY15 Management Letter identifies four findings with two identified as a “Material Weakness.”

 

The FY16 Management Letter listed only two findings none of which were identified as a “Material Weakness” or “Significant Deficiency.”

 

So, from FY12 to FY16 the Management Letter shows a decrease of 93% in the number of findings (27 to two), and a decrease of 100% (13 to zero) in findings identified as material or significant.

 

This positive trend is due to the hard work of the Clerk/Treasurer’s Office team who through their own commitment, as well as in response to the clear direction from the Mayor and City Council, seek to continuously improve our office’s financial practices, as evidenced through the Auditor’s Management Letter. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge the hard work of all City departments, and especially Department Heads, their assistants, and departmental financial staff who in collaboration with the Clerk/Treasurer team help make these successes possible. Several measures were taken to improve finances, including:

 

• Implementing central purchasing, which has already reduced purchasing costs and identified possible new revenues sources such as rebates;

• Collaborating with the Human Resources Department to hire a new third party administrator for the City’s health insurance plan to reduce administrative costs and improve monitoring of expenses;

 • Collaborating with all City Departments in developing the 10-year Capital Plan to have a planned, proactive, and cost-efficient approach to address long-standing City infrastructure needs;

• Implementing the Agency of Education requirement of financial firewall between the City and the School District; Bob Rusten Chief Administrative Officer OFFICE OF THE CITY CLERK/TREASURER 30 City of Burlington

• Presenting the FY16 Audit to City Council at the earliest date in over 10 years;

• Achieving a clean Federal Audit report;

• Reorganizing the Clerk Treasurer’s Office with one change delegating to the Comptroller the responsibility of internal audits