Tewksbury selectmen received a presentation on an audit of the town's finances over this past fiscal year from accounting firm Powers and Sullivan at their Dec. 3 meeting.
Richard Sullivan, a partner at Powers and Sullivan, told selectmen he believed it had been another sound year fiscally for Tewksbury, with strong management and responsible fiscal policies continuing to improve the town's finances.
Standard and Poor's recently upgraded the town's bond rating to AA, citing a strong local economy and good financial management practices by town leadership.
"I think we had a good year this past fiscal year as you can see with our bond rating upgrade," Sullivan said. "To go from AA- to AA in an economy that's treading water, that's a significant accomplishment. "
Sullivan also stated that the town had achieved profitability for the third consecutive year.
"Three years in a row of decent performance and building reserves has resulted in this," Sullivan said. "You haven't kicked the can down the road."
Selectman Todd Johnson commended the work of Town Manager Richard Montuori and his staff in implementing the fiscal policies that led to another strong year for the town, as well as the bond rating upgrade.
"That is no small accomplishment in difficult times. That's in large part due to a lot of hard work by people in the town's employ," Johnson said. "It should not be lost on this community that through some difficult times we have worked very hard and had some very solid management to get to this point."
Sullivan also identified several areas where Tewksbury can improve their financial practices, including the creation of a disaster recovery plan.
Other liabilities Sullivan highlighted for Tewksbury included continuing to address the town's unfunded pension liability, a commitment of more than $160 million in post-employment benefit payments and more than $137 million in debt.
Other News From Tuesday's Meeting
- The annual tax classification hearing has been set for the next selectmen meeting on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. at Tewksbury Town Hall. Town Manager Richard Montuori said he doesn't foresee a significant shift of the burden between commercial and residential taxes.
- A public hearing was held for Cafe Sicilia owner Joe Mazzola who was seeking permission to serve liqueurs and cordials at his restaurant. Mazzola said the consumption of cordials after a meal is Italian tradition, and he was hoping to be able to offer his customers this option. Selectmen voted to table the hearing until their Dec. 17 meeting as they were still waiting to receive feedback from town department heads on the possibility of granting the license.
- A public hearing was held for Trull Brook Golf Course seeking permission to extend their hours of alcohol service. The change would allow the golf course to begin serving alcohol at 8 a.m. instead of 11 a.m. Trull Brook Superintendent Roy Trull said he is seeking the change in order to accommodate more golf tournaments, which generally look to courses that offer alcohol service starting earlier than 11 a.m. Selectmen Todd Johnson asked Trull if he would consider limiting the extension of hours from March to November, to coincide with golf season. Trull said he was open to the proposal, but selectmen voted to table the discussion until their Dec. 17 meeting as they were still waiting to receive feedback from town department heads on the possibility of granting the extension of service hours.
- Selectmen voted to approve 2014 liquor license renewals, class license renewals, common victualler license renewals, entertainment license renewals and amusement device license renewals. All renewals are contingent upon any outstanding real estate, sewer or water bills being paid to the town by Dec. 31, 2013.
- Selectmen approved hours for establishments in town open and serving alcohol on New Year's Eve. Bars must stop serving alcohol at 12:45 a.m., consumption of alcohol must end by 1:15 a.m., patrons must be off premises by 1:30 a.m. and the bars must be closed and employees out by 2 a.m.
- Montuori updated selectmen on two Tewksbury fire engines currently in need of repairs. The first, a 2002 model, would cost approximately $240,000 to refurbish, although Montuori said based on that cost it might make more sense for the town to purchase a new engine. The second engine in need of repairs, a 1999 model, would cost approximately $189,000 to refurbish. Montuori said these funds would need to be appropriated at Annual Town Meeting next spring or at a Special Town Meeting called before then. Wilmington has loaned Tewksbury an old engine to use in the meantime.