GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 3, 2012

Kirk: State of city is 'sound'

Mayor focuses on fiscal strength

GLOUCESTER — The state of the city is “absolutely sound.”

That was the theme of Mayor Carolyn Kirk’s annual State of the City presentation Monday night, when the mayor touted a solid fiscal status built on a solid budgeting, a declining level of debt service and energy savings that will stem in part from the city share of the wind turbine project still taking shape at Blackburn Industrial Park.

Speaking to about 100 people in City Hall’s Kyrouz Auditorium, Kirk mapped out Gloucester’s economic success that has been key to adding city infrastructure, innovation, and an ability for the city to invest in capital improvements, reserves, future liabilities and city services.

”Without a strong, stable city, nothing else gets done,” Kirk said in an interview prior to Monday night’s presentation.

The city’s general fund debt is retiring, and now at a level of just over $2 million for 2013. It is expected to factor in at about $1.4 million in 2017, according to Kirk. And, said Kirk, the administration intends to cap that debt burden at today’s level just over $2 million, so as the debt continues to be retired, the excess money set aside each year can be used to initiate capital projects, like work on the proposed new or renovated West Parish School.

In 2014, the amount in excess will total in at about $500,000, the mayor’s report indicated. The city is also eyeing a projected $450,000 in annual municipal electrical cost savings, after having installed wind turbines this fall. Kirk has earmarked money previously budgeted toward municipal electric bills to fund a joint city police and fire safety building.

”Gloucester has come through the roughest economic period in generations and emerged with firm control over our destiny,” Kirk said.

This year, Gloucester touted $4.8 million in so-called “free cash,” or unspent and unbudgeted money for the previous fiscal year.

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