Newton Mayor Setti Warren rolled out his final financial forecast and capital project plan as the city’s executive Monday, and told the city council that continuing to fund retiree expenses over the coming years is critical to maintaining the city’s finances.
Warren also said the city will build pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle improvements at village centers in West Newton next year, and in Newtonville in 2019.
He said the city will also implement a new bike-share program by next spring, which is intended to give residents an alternative to driving in order to commute in Newton.
On meeting retiree expenses, Warren told the councilors, “Commitment to fully funding the city’s long-term liabilities is critical to maintaining financial sustainability.”
Newton holds a AAA bond rating with Standard and Poor’s Financial Services and Moody’s Investor Services. But each rating agency has previously reported that the cost of pensions and retiree benefits — nearly a combined $1 billion — is a credit weakness.
Warren told councilors the city is scheduled to fully fund the city’s pension liability by 2030, and benefits by 2042.
Warren is wrapping up as Newton’s mayor after serving two terms, and is running for governor in 2018. On Nov. 7, voters will elect his successor: council President Scott Lennon or Councilor-at-Large Ruthanne Fuller. Both have said they would carry on the financial priorities previously outlined by Warren.
Warren also outlined to the council a five-year plan for upgrading buildings, streets, and other infrastructure projects.
Warren said this year was the first of a decade-long plan to repair city streets. The city has also completed safety and traffic improvements in 10 of 19 intersections identified as “most critical,” he said.
During his tenure, the city has completed projects for fire department and school facilities, and officials have begun work on the Cabot School, which is the final school included as part of the 2013 override. Future projects are still ahead for the city’s preschool and Lincoln-Eliot Elementary School, he said.John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.