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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

New city financial report shows healthy outlook despite pandemic

The City of Westminster is in a healthy financial position, despite the challenges of a global pandemic. The foresight of previous leadership, favorable revenues in 2019, strategic decisions by Council and Staff in response to the pandemic, and the Westminster business community’s adaptability and resiliency were all contributing factors.

To increase transparency and understanding of City financial information, the City released its first Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR). This report outlines the City’s financial position as of December 31, 2019 and is less technical than the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports produced by the City. The PAFR highlights progress toward the City’s strategic plan and describes decisions in 2019 to reorganize staff to support financial sustainability, innovation, communication and improved business practices. In 2019 the City improved its net position and grew its financial reserves, helping the City withstand an economic downturn and reduced revenues in 2020.

The City responded quickly to the pandemic in 2020 with many cost-saving actions. The City refinanced debt, implemented a strategic hiring freeze, implemented travel and training restrictions, froze capital budgets, and utilized savings from 2019. While the 2020 audited financials are not final, Assistant City Manager Chris Lindsey stated that the City’s cost-saving measures resulted in “a significantly more favorable financial position at the end of the year.” The 2020 PAFR will be available in the summer of 2021.

The City took many actions in 2020 to support the local business community, help families in need, and ensure staff safety during essential city service delivery. The City utilized the full 8.98 million in Federal CARES Act dollars it was eligible to receive. Westminster supported businesses with over 3.5 million dollars in grants and allocated over 1.4 million dollars to housing assistance and social recovery programs.

While Council would typically adopt a two-year budget, the City prepared a one-year budget for 2021 given the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic challenges that have accompanied this public health crisis. The 2021 budget includes many conservative actions, including keeping many vacant positions frozen, implementing capital reductions, retaining the strategic hiring freeze, creating cost savings through modified service hours, and reducing administrative costs. Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer Larry Dorr stated that “Westminster has a positive outlook on the economy based on what we know to date. Sales tax improved in the 4th quarter of 2020, and we expect continued improvement as vaccinations increase and COVID-19 cases diminish.”

The 2019 PAFR and the 2021 Budget are accessible by clicking the images below:

 


 

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