The Huntington School District holds a “robust” financial position according to a recently released report by Moody’s Investors Service. The district has a “negligible” debt burden and a “very healthy” tax base.
District officials and Huntington School Board members have long adhered to a conservative budgeting philosophy, striving to present realistic annual expenditure and revenue projections and pursuing efficiencies wherever they can be found.
“Huntington UFSD’s credit position is very strong and its Aa1 rating is above the media rating of Aa3 for school districts nationwide,” according to Moody’s. “The rating reflects a robust financial position and a considerable tax base with an affluent socioeconomic profile. It also incorporates a moderate pension liability with a negligible debt burden.”
“We have worked extremely hard over the years to budget wisely, in a manner that has allowed us to maintain or expand programs, minimize non-essential costs and reduce debt to levels that are uncharacteristically low for a school district,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “This approach has allowed us to provide ongoing benefits for our students and also remain ever mindful of the taxpayer burden.”
Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky. (Darin Reed photo.)
The “annual comment” from Moody’s is available to lenders who are interested in purchasing the district’s notes. Huntington UFSD has one of the lowest debt burdens of any Long Island district.
“The district has a very healthy financial position, which is slightly favorable when compared with the assigned rating of Aa1,” according to Moody’s. “The net cash balance as a percent of revenues (29.0 percent) is slightly stronger that the US median. However, Huntington UFSD’s available fund balance as a percent of operating revenues (16.9 percent) falls just short of other Moody’s rated school districts nationwide. (Note: Huntington UFSD’s fund balance is in accordance with state law and guidance from the state comptroller.)
The district has kept its overall debt low by utilizing a capital reserve fund that relies on the transfer of surplus monies from the general fund. Voters approved creation of the fund. A prioritized list of repair and renovation projects is presented to residents each year for their approval.
“The economy and tax base of the district are very healthy and are in line with its Aa1 rating,” Moody’s said. “The total full value ($5.3 billion) is stronger than the US median. Moreover, the full value per capita ($143,618) is above the US median. That said, this metric fell modestly between 2013 and 2016. Lastly, the median family income is a robust 170.2 percent of the US level.”
District residents passed the $123,100,263 spending plan for the 2016/17 school year by a vote of 1,245-304 last May 17. A proposition seeking release of $2.436 million from the Building Improvement Fund for various renovation and repair projects also sailed through, 1,312-227.
“The district has small debt and pension burdens, which are in line with its Aa1 rating,” according to Moody’s. “The net direct debt to full value (0.0 percent) is well other Moody’s rated school districts nationwide. In addition, the Moody’s-adjusted net pension liability to operating revenues (1.1x) is under the US median and decreased slightly between 2013 and 2016.”