Fiscal analysis ranks Old Lyme among state's healthiest municipalities

Old Lyme — First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder lauded town employees last week in connection with a think tank’s finding that the town is among the most fiscally healthy municipalities in the state.

In a study published earlier this year, the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization, ranked Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns according to their general fund balances, long-term obligations, actuarially determined pension contributions and changes in unemployment rates and property values.

The study, “Warning Signs: Assessing Municipal Fiscal Health in Connecticut,” ranked Old Lyme fifth best, behind No. 1 Bridgewater and, in descending order, Eastford, Cornwall and Warren.

“Old Lyme, with a population of over 7,000 residents, is the largest town in the five top-scoring municipalities, maintaining zero pension and OPEB (other postemployment benefits) liabilities and total long-term debt of $3.3 million,” the study says. “Because the town offers employees only a defined contribution retirement plan, it does not accumulate pension and OPEB debt.”

Reemsnyder commented on the town’s ranking at last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

“I think that this really is due to Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, all of the individuals, collaborating and working together and trying to make sure that we are a town that plans well and protects the fiscal health of our community,” she said. “This is kudos for our town, it’s not kudos for any one person. It’s kudos for our boards and commissions and the volunteers that plan so well.” 

The study found that 61 municipalities have elevated credit risk, including eight facing “severe fiscal distress” and danger of becoming insolvent. Those eight, from most in danger to least, are Hamden, Waterbury, Stratford, Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, West Haven and Sprague.

“With 60 percent of Connecticut’s population living in municipalities determined to be fiscally marginal, and eight of those municipalities in severe distress, it is clear that the fiscal challenges faced by Connecticut’s state government are not unique, but are issues faced by local governments and taxpayers as well,” the study concludes.

Among other southeastern Connecticut municipalities, East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, New London, North Stonington and Waterford ranked in the “marginal” range. Joining Old Lyme in the “healthy” range are Lyme, Montville, Norwich, Preston and Stonington.

— Brian Hallenbeck

 

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