Town Administrator David Cressman's final presentation brings positive financial news

By Douglas McCulloch | Feb 05, 2018

Town Administrator David Cressman’s final presentation in his post contained good news for the town’s finances: the town’s bond rating is holding steady.

Speaking at the February 5 Select Board meeting, Cressman revealed the results of Standard & Poor’s latest Rating Service results. The town maintained its ‘AAA’ bond rating - the highest possible - holding steady after first receiving the designation in 2016.

Raters found positive town management and leadership, and raised a ranking of the town’s financial management as a result.

“They viewed the town’s management as very strong,” Cressman said. “They’ve revised our [Financial Management Assessment] score to ‘strong’ from ‘good.’

Cressman also picked out a highlight on the firm’s rationale for rating the town higher than the country’s rating.

“We rate Dartmouth higher than the sovereign because we believe the town can maintain better credit characteristics than the nation,” read the report.

As part of the presentation, Cressman also updated the board on some historical financial trends. Money taken in from property taxes has gone up since 2006, rising from just under $40 million to just under $60 million in fiscal year 2017. State aid, however, has fallen from a peak of $16 million in 2007 to $14.6 million in 2017.

“We’re more dependent on property taxes than we ever were before,” Cressman said. “It’s because state aid has gone backwards. It still hasn’t grown that much.”

Despite that, the town has been able to put some money away. Free cash has risen from $2 million in 2006 to over $5 million.

“One of the things we’ve been very good at is being savers,” Cressman said. “By not spending all of our dollars each fiscal year and also being conservative in our revenue assumptions, we've been able to put more and more money away each year into free cash.”

When Cressman concluded his presentation, Select Board members took the opportunity to wish him farewell as he stepped away from the podium for the final time.

Chair Frank Gracie noted he first met Cressman while on the Finance Committee, and admitted his ability to help share information to make proper decisions.

“You will be leaving the Town of Dartmouth in a much better place,” said member Mickelson.

Member Kelli Martin Taglianetti thanked Cressman for helping her transition into her position on the board, and for his service to the town.

“I just want to say good luck, and thank you,” added member John Haran.

Member Shawn McDonald praised Cressman’s legacy of making Dartmouth a little better every day.

“Dartmouth is better for it and and I appreciate it, my family appreciates it, and I know everyone out there appreciates it,” McDonald said.

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