Mayor Pete Buttigieg sounded mostly upbeat about South Bend’s financial health during an annual fiscal address to the Common Council on Monday night.
“South Bend once again has one of the top bond ratings in the state, showing that our fiscal discipline and tough choices are paying off for taxpayers,” Buttigieg says. “The City must always find ways to deliver services to residents as cost-effectively as possible, and this administration will continue to work with the Council to serve the city well amid tight financial conditions.”
Standard & Poor’s recently reaffirmed the city’s AA rating. The ratings company defines an AA rating as a “very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.” An AAA rating is the highest.
“There is no class two city in the state of Indiana with a better bond rating than the city of South Bend,” the mayor said.
South Bend is tied with Fishers for the highest rating of any second class city in Indiana, which the state defines as cities with a population between 35,000 and 600,000. Fishers is an Indianapolis suburb.
“This bond rating does not mean we are flush,” the mayor added, noting that the city continues to struggle with property tax caps.
The voter approved property tax caps that are enshrined in Indiana’s state constitution have shrunk the size of the city’s general fund. As a result, general fund expenses amounted to $54.7 million in 2014, which is down from $66.5 million in 2008.
85 percent of the general fund is dedicated to public safety in the form of the police department, fire department and the communications center.
Despite the budget constraints, Buttigieg credited the “good budget work that we’ve done” for the AA bond rating.