January 16, 2018
Contact: Christine Chamberland, Director of Finance
CITY CONTINUES DOWN THE PATH OF FINANCIAL STABILITY AND GROWTH - WOONSOCKET FY 2017 AUDIT CONFIRMS SURPLUS
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt today announced that audited financial statements for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2017 have been completed and confirm that both the City of Woonsocket (“City”) and the Woonsocket Education Department (“School”) ended Fiscal Year 2017 with operating surpluses. The audit was performed by the independent auditing firm of Hague, Sahady & Co., P.C., and they issued Woonsocket’s financial statements with a clean, unqualified opinion.
As of June 30, 2017, the City has an unassigned Fund Balance of $5,885,189 which represents 4.3% of budgeted expenditures and the School’s available Fund Balance is $3,361,933. “Woonsocket is turning an important corner,” the Mayor exclaimed. “Just three years ago we were dealing with large, accumulated operating deficits that had necessitated state intervention through a Budget Commission. Rather than just giving in or making rash financial decisions, we instead embarked on a conservative fiscal recovery path that has better positioned ourselves for future financial stability and growth. This has been a successful path, and we need to keep moving forward on it.”
City Director of Finance, Christine Chamberland stated that the increase in fund balance in Fiscal Year 2017 was driven by a City operating surplus in the General Fund of almost $1.2 million and a School operating surplus of over $746,000. The Mayor lauded Director Chamberland’s and the Finance Department’s efforts in helping Woonsocket maintain financial stability and stated, “Sound financial oversight is crucial to any community’s fiscal success, and Director Chamberland and her department have dedicated themselves to work tirelessly to help ensure that Woonsocket never finds itself in the kind of financial distress that it was in only a short while back.” The Mayor followed, “our positive financial results, and very successful audit demonstrate what can happen when everyone pulls together for the benefit of the community as a whole.”
The Mayor also offered, “It is important to note that our financial statements show that bonded debt in Fiscal Year 2017 decreased by more than $9.5 million from the prior year due to the continued pay down of old debt, a school bond refinancing that has both reduced debt and saved taxpayers money on interest payments, and the fact that we have once again this past Fiscal Year not issued any new General Obligation debt. Our improved financial and debt positions are important to continue the positive momentum that Woonsocket has achieved with the rating agencies.” The Mayor added, “Our General Obligation Bonds are rated seven steps higher today by Fitch than they were at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2015. It is gratifying to see that these outside professional agencies have also recognized the progress that we have made." The Mayor continued, “This is proof - for our residents, our businesses and our hard-working City employees - that we are doing the right thing and moving City Finances in the right direction.”