A newly published report is giving citizens an unprecedented glimpse into their city’s spending habits dating back to 2008.
(TNS) — NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — It's been more than 230 years since New Bedford incorporated as a town in 1787. Now a city, it continues to accomplish firsts.
This year, Chief Financial Officer Ari Sky and Auditor Robert Ekstrom submitted the first ever Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).
Sure, it won't live up to other accomplishments in the annals of the city, but the information it contained is vital to its nearly 100,000 residents.
While the city produces yearly audits, the CAFR merges the financial data with management information, Sky said.
The 141-page document is intended to provide information regarding the financial position of the city. It covers the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017. The audit was conducted by independent public accountants at Hauge, Sahady & Co.
The data compiled includes numbers dating back to 2008, which differs from a normal audit that can focus on a year or two.
"It really shows the demands on city services and what the city was able to achieve," Eckstrom said. "...They not only show you trends but what the demands are."
Since 2008, the city's total expenditures have increased from $281.1 million to $338.99 million in 2017. The biggest drivers to the increase included education, which increased by $24 million during that time and state and county charges, which grew by $10 million.
Pension and health care, items Mayor Jon Mitchell has discussed in depth as budget drivers, increased by a combined $15 million over the last decade.
During that same time, general government spending increased by about $800,000, while spending on public works decreased by about $4 million.
The data also revealed New Bedford's property values have increased since 2014. However, Sky said the biggest increase will come in 2018.
In 2017, the total assessed value in the city was $5.53 billion. Skye said the number for 2018 will be $5.88 billion.
The final two pages of the report share with residents what their tax money supplies.
For example, in 2017, the city repaired 11,815 potholes. That number dwarfed 2012's total of 3,655, but fell thousands short of the 13,506 filled in 2011.
Other data within the CAFR involved public safety. It revealed that since 2008, New Bedford has 29 fewer uniformed police officers, however, during that time reports of violent crime have dropped by more than 200 on an annual basis. The number of yearly arrests also dropped by more than 900.
Uniformed firefighters also saw a decrease from 236 to 216.
As for recreation, New Bedford saw its walking trails more than triple in miles to 6.5 compared to 2008. The city also created more eight more miles worth of sidewalks over the last decade,while paving four more miles or new road.
The full document can be viewed here: http://newbedford.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/auditors-office/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/CONB-2017-CAFR-Final-as-of-3.12.18-10am.pdf
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