– By Valerie Cury
In a message to the Town on New Year’s Day, Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser gave citizens a preview of his annual State of the Town Address, scheduled for Feb. 12 at the Town Hall.
In a pragmatic and forthright tone – peppered with the Mayor’s well-known affection for hard and fast economic numbers – Fraser acknowledged the internal administrative investigations growing out of alleged misconduct by the Police Chief and others, while urging all to “[not] lose sight of how well positioned Purcellville is and prepared to take on challenges and opportunities.”
“We are moving aggressively to bring the police investigation and the investigations relating to possible improper conduct to a close. I don’t have the luxury of putting the Town’s fiscal health on hold while pausing to fix those issues. We have momentum on our side going into 2018, and I plan to take advantage of that,” said Fraser.
Taxes, Utility Rates, Budget Projections
According to Fraser, two of the most important achievements, moving into 2018, fall into the category of taxes and utility rates. There will be “No increase in the tax rate in fiscal year 2018 … No increase in water and sewer rates for fiscal year 2018 … “ said Fraser, and an “Over 50 percent reduction in the prior projected water and sewer rate increases for fiscal year 2019 and beyond.”
“General fund revenues exceeded budget projections by $697,559 in 2017,” and “2017 expenditures were $685,936 less than budget … “
Non-Tax Revenue/Town Operations
Commenting on Purcellville’s financial position with respect to the Utility Fund, the Wastewater Fund, and other operational sectors, and maximizing the income-producing potential of Town-owned assets, Fraser reported that the Town had realized nearly $1.1 million in non-tax income, savings, and investments. These included reducing Utility Fund operational chargebacks by over $324,000, and realizing over $344,000 in income from new, non-tax revenue sources via timber sales, $300,000 in revenue from the sale of Wastewater Fund assets, and $107,000 in additional annual revenue from the investment of taxpayers’ reserves.
Overall Financial Position, 2017 Year-End
Fraser noted that, overall, the Town’s net financial position increased by over $5 million, with approximately $1.2 million associated with governmental activities and $3.8 million from business-type or utility activities.
The Town’s fund balance was $8.8 million, with $6.7 million “unassigned and available for future spending.” This, according to Fraser, is “… well in excess of the Town’s fund balance policy target of $3 million or 30 percent of total revenues.”
On a related topic, the Mayor said there are “big wins” to celebrate with respect to the Town’s bond portfolio. The Town has been able to “decrease debt and eliminate balloon maturities, saving our taxpayers millions over the next decade … [realize] a more than 50 percent reduction in the projected water and sewer fees increases … [and an] early payoff of the 2010 RBC bond …”
Heading Into 2018
Fraser also took the opportunity to emphasize the new public/private partnerships that the Town has executed with Fireman’s Field and pursuing with other publicly owned assets, the nearly four dozen new businesses registered, and the significant number that have been either rebuilt or expanded, including McDonald’s and Southern States.
According to Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Services, and Fitch Ratings, Fraser said, the Town’s “strong investment grade credit ratings” have been “affirmed,” and the Town is moving forward to fill key leadership positions, and complete its town-wide Comprehensive Plan.
Fraser will make his State of the Town Address on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall.