Successfully initiated a series of sweeping reforms to address the city’s crippling $1.5 billion unfunded pension liability
In 2011, we successfully addressed the City of Atlanta’s $1.5 billion unfunded pension liability, which was becoming a crippling financial burden, preventing city leaders from dedicating resources and investing in critical projects. Through a collaboration with the Atlanta City Council and the city’s employee unions, the pension reform legislation passed unanimously and will save the city $270 million over 10 years and $500 million over the next 30 years. Most importantly, the city as an employer is proud to provide employees with the security of a benefit that is sustainable and allows it to retain, recruit and attract a talented workforce. In his book “We Can All Do Better”, former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley cited my straightforward approach in successfully reforming the city’s pension plan and wrote: “We need more of that kind of candor.”
Increased the city’s reserves from $7.6 million to more than $126 million in 3 years
On my first day in office on January 4, 2010, the City of Atlanta had $7.4 million in its cash reserves. As of June 30 of last year, the reserves are at $126.7 million, as audited by KPMG. A strong base of reserve funds helps the city’s credit worthiness and its bond rating and gives the city the financial capability to handle the unexpected.
Improved the city’s bond rating
In July 2012, Moody’s Investors Service affirmed the City of Atlanta’s Aa2 rating and revised its outlook to “stable” from “negative” on its $211.4 million in outstanding general obligation bonds and $184.5 million in contractual obligations. Concurrently, Moody’s affirmed the A1 rating on $81.4 million in revenue bonds issued through Invest Atlanta and the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority. A strong bond rating reduces the cost of borrowing for the city and allows for investment in major projects. An improved bond rating also represents confidence of the market in the city’s financial management and its ability to act as a prudent steward of taxpayer dollars.
Balanced the city’s budget by reducing waste and making critical investments in city services without raising property taxes
In 2010, the City of Atlanta faced a nearly $48 million budget shortfall. Since then, my administration has managed the budget by streamlining inefficiencies in city government and making important investments such as hiring new police officers, opening all of the city’s recreations centers and giving sworn public safety officers a 3.5 percent raise – all without a property tax increase on city residents and with almost $100 million less in the budget than in 2008.
Named Winner in CNBC’s Inaugural “Recovery Road Trip”
As part of a new series called the “Recovery Road Trip,” CNBC named Atlanta the No. 1 city for stock performance in 2012. CNBC’s “Recovery Road Trip” ranked American cities based on the performance of its biggest public companies in the stock market. The City of Atlanta garnered the top spot as a result of the biggest public companies who claim Atlanta as their home, posting an average return of 22 percent for a 52-week period that ended on October 31, 2012. Atlanta was also the only city where none of the biggest public company stocks dropped over the one-year period, according to CNBC.