Still, there are some who point to the 2010 CAFR, especially page 99, as the smoking gun evidence of chronic deficit spending in Richardson.
After the jump, a look at the infamous page 99 (and page 100).
Pages 99-100 of the 2010 Consolidated Annual Financial Report (CAFR) contain Table 4, "Changes in Fund Balances, Government Funds, Last ten fiscal years." All numbers below are taken directly from that table and are in millions of dollars.
|Changes in Fund Balances, Government Funds|
Last ten fiscal years (in millions)
In seven of the ten years, the net change is negative. In three of the ten years, the net change is positive. The overall ten-year net change is positive. Now being in the red seven of the ten years doesn't sound good, but when the surpluses in the three black years are bigger than the deficits in the seven red years, I have trouble concluding that Richardson has chronic financial deficit spending problems.
Admittedly, those three black years are helped by bond sales. Is the problem that Richardson is staying afloat by growing debt? There is no doubt that Richardson's debt has grown, but so have the city's assets. Prior years' CAFRs that are available online go back to 2006. Whereas both assets and liabilities have grown since then, Richardson's net asset value is essentially unchanged.
Net assets as of September 30, 2005 were $201,383,000.
Net assets as of September 30, 2010 were $202,622,000.
The 2010 CAFR shows one measure of how much it has cost Richardson over the years to carry its debt. It's on that same page 100:
|Debt service as a percentage|
of noncapital expenditures
Again, this is remarkably stable over time.
Let's review. Over ten years, revenues plus other funding exceeds expenditures. Over five years (all that's available online), net assets are essentially unchanged. Over ten years, debt service as a percentage of noncapital expenditures is essentially unchanged.
I live in Richardson and want it be financially sound. So, I'm alert to warnings about fiscal problems. But I have a hard time concluding from pages 99-100 of the CAFR that Richardson is in a death spiral of increasing debt.
All that said, it's important to keep in mind that pages 99-100 are only two pages of a long report. And they summarize only the city's government funds. These account for the majority of the city's activities, but they aren't the whole story. There are still many places in the CAFR in which trouble may lurk. If trouble ever does emerge, expect the cynics who distrust the city government to be the first to spot it. That's a valuable service, even if they lead us down a lot of rabbit holes beforehand.