Despite economic slump, town finances stand strong | January 2, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - January 2, 2009

Despite economic slump, town finances stand strong

Conservative investments have proven steady

by Geoff Gillette

With the recent fluctuations in the market and their effect on both national and international economic structures, many towns and cities are nervously eyeing their budgets and accounts. Danville Town officials say that here, at least, the situation is stable.

Members of the Town Council were presented with the draft comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year ending June 30, at their Nov. 18 meeting.

Town Finance Director Elizabeth Hudson presented the report to the council and said the news was good. "The Town of Danville's financial condition remains sound," Hudson stated. According to the report, one indicator of a town's financial condition is the balances in a town's various funds.

In the case of Danville, the general fund is seeing a balance of $13.6 million. Additionally, $25.7 million has been reserved in Special Revenue Funds; $4.1 million in Debt Service Funds; and $39.6 million in Capital Projects Funds.

Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said the reason they are holding steady currently is that they have been very conservative in what they do with their investments. "We focus on safety first, yield second and liquidity third. The full amount we've invested is still there and we enjoyed an increase in the value of the fund," he said.

The report showed that property taxes remain the town's chief revenue source. In 2007-08, property taxes increased by 1.1 percent, which reflects an increase of 5.4 percent in the assessed value of property in the town. Property taxes account for around 37.2 percent of revenues for Danville.

A number of construction projects came to fruition in 2007-08, including the Oak Hill Park Community Center, completion of the La Questa Storm Drain project, renovations of the children's play areas at Sycamore Valley and Diablo Vista Parks, and nearly $2 million in pavement maintenance repairs, overlays and slurry seal projects throughout the town.

The outlook for the future shows a continued steadiness in the town, but there will be some areas that will need to be addressed in the coming years. The report said areas that will need additional assistance include the Lighting and Landscape Assessment District, various street projects and the Town's Capital Improvement Program. All are expected to need additional infusions of capital from the Town in the coming years.

Overall, officials said they felt it was a solid report and an indicator of how well the town's financial advisors are steering their investments. Councilman Newell Arnerich congratulated Hudson and her team on a solid report and said now is the time to begin strategizing for how best to maintain funding levels in the face of a down economy and a financially starved state. "We're moving into a new era and we're going to have to tighten our belts," he noted. "I think it's wise that we are cautiously putting money into our reserve fund. The state of California is going to figure out ways to steal money from the towns."