Valley Voices: Financially healthy Apple Valley can keep its promises (March 12, 2017)

Opponents to the town’s efforts to acquire our water system — led by the current owner, Liberty Utilities — have taken to social media, public records requests and letters to the editor to trash our ability to finance and manage such a move.

And yet, a big part of what makes Apple Valley an extraordinary place to live and operate a business is our financial health, reaffirmed in a new study that shows the town among the top 10 percent of municipalities in California in terms of fiscal strength and accountability.

The 2017 “California City and County Fiscal Strength Index,” referenced in a recent Daily Press story, ranked Apple Valley 50th among 511 cities and counties analyzed. The ranking placed us third in San Bernardino County and higher than such admired communities as Rancho Cucamonga (119th place) and Redlands (287th).

Our “100” score was based on a variety of factors, including:

  • A General Fund balance equal to 32 percent or more of general fund expenditures;
  • Long-term liabilities no greater than 40 percent of total revenues;
  • Actuarially determined pension contributions no greater than 10 percent of total revenues;
  • Flat or declining unemployment rate;
  • Annual property value increase of 3 percent or more.

While we always enjoy a friendly competition with our neighbors, recognition such as this is really about our ability to provide our residents and businesses the support and services they need to prosper. As we move forward with important initiatives — local control of our water system, as an example — you deserve to know that we can deliver on our promises.

Our town’s staff has demonstrated that time and time again over the years.

Apple Valley consistently has placed in the top 2 percent nationally for its accounting and financial reporting practices, and in 2016 earned the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (4 years) and the Operating Budget Excellence Award from the California Society of Municipal Finance Office (3 years). In addition, town staff received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting (14 years) for the town’s financial statements.

A big part of the credit goes to Assistant Town Manager Marc Puckett and his Finance and Administrative staff, whose expertise and professionalism are beyond reproach. But it’s really a team effort, involving every member of our town staff, committed to ensuring that your local government has the resources and wherewithal to support a quality of life you have come to expect.

As a town, we have been leaders in addressing the public-employee pension concerns that have caused serious financial stress for a growing number of California municipalities. We’ve been able to proactively invest in public safety and street maintenance, economic development and job creation, and parks and recreation.

Add it up, and we are in elite territory when it comes to fiscal health and our ability to deliver the highest-quality services to its our residents.

The naysayers can chide us all they want, but this is what a healthy local government can, and must, do.

— Scott Nassif is mayor of the Town of Apple Valley.

Source: Daily Press