Mayor Kasim Reed announced in April that the City of Atlanta has reached an important financial milestone, with a record-high $175 million in reserves funding. The city has also achieved its highest credit rating in 40 years.
When Mayor Reed came into office in January 2010, the City had only $7.4 million in reserves, and was nearly $50 million in the red with its annual budget. Since then, the City has passed seven consecutive balanced budgets without a single property tax increase, has received nine credit ratings upgrades, and has not initiated any water rate increases. After taking office during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Mayor Reed has put Atlanta in its strongest financial position in more than a generation.
“On my first day in office, I set a goal of building our reserves funds to $175 million, the largest in the city’s history,” said Mayor Reed. “From pension reform, to making the decision to sell key properties like City Hall East, Turner Field and Underground Atlanta, we have worked to reach this milestone. My Administration has demonstrated what is possible when the City of Atlanta is financially strong, stable and well-run. Our city is safer, stronger and more prosperous today because of the hard work and tough choices we made.”
In his first term in office, Mayor Reed eliminated furloughs and layoffs, and found the resources to hire 2,000 police officers for the first time in the city’s history. In January 2011, sworn officers in the Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department received a full step pay increase of 3.5 percent, the first since 2007. Over the past seven years, public safety personnel and city employees have also received nine salary increases.
Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard has led the City in receiving nine credit ratings increases to AA+, the second-highest rating possible for municipal government and the highest rating for the City of Atlanta in 40 years.
“I am honored to stand by Mayor Reed and announce this milestone today,” said Beard. “Mayor Reed charged me with putting the City’s financial house in order, and building the strongest possible foundation for our City’s future. I am proud of what the Department of Finance has achieved on behalf of Mayor Reed and the residents of the City of Atlanta.”
In 2014, Mayor Reed appointed the Blue Ribbon Commission on Waste & Efficiency in Government, co-chaired by Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson and Atlanta City Councilmember Howard Shook. The Commission identified multiple strategies for achieving cost savings, including selling underutilized properties and returning them to the tax rolls. Last month, the City closed on the sale of Underground Atlanta to WRS, Inc., saving an estimated $8 million each year. Earlier this year, the City closed on the sale of Turner Field to Georgia State University and Carter, a leading real estate developer, to redevelop the property in to a core campus with athletic facilities, as well as mixed-use development including affordable housing. These cost savings have contributed to reaching the milestone of $175 million in reserves.
In his final year in office, Mayor Reed remains focused on achieving AAA credit rating status from the nation’s leading credit bureaus.