Municipal Fiscal Health Analysis
CERC created a municipal fiscal health analysis to help the Town of Woodbridge understand its own fiscal situation and prepare for potential future challenges. This analysis considered how the town’s current grand list, public services, and demographics had changed over time, and how they compared to a set of similar towns. It also explored how certain policy changes could impact the town’s budget over time.
CERC did this by, first, evaluating Woodbridge’s fiscal health compared to similar towns in the state. The comparison highlighted areas of growth and potential challenges due to larger macro trends. It involved an analysis of demographic trends in town, including school enrollment, public expenditures, and an analysis of the net grand list.
CERC then utilized the findings from the first phase to model a series of scenarios, projecting Woodbridge’s fiscal situation ten years into the future (1) if there were no changes to current trends; (2) if state education funding decreased; (3) if the local and regional school districts in the area were combined into one larger school district; and (4) if the commercial, industrial, and public utility portion of the grand list were to grow more quickly.
The results of the analysis showed several interesting findings. Some key conclusions discussed:
- Woodbridge’s fiscal challenges relative to surrounding towns;
- Woodbridge changes in household incomes, grand list, and unemployment relative to other towns and the state
- Woodbridge’s town expenditures per capita relative to other towns;
- Projected cost increases in budget items and the effect of possibly regionalizing;
- How a hypothetical reduction of state funding could impact mill rates;
- How growth in the commercial/industrial portion of the grand list could impact mill rates; and
- How certain attributes of home values retained value over time.
Municipal Economic Development Services
The Town of Woodbridge recently hired CERC Municipal Services staff to serve as the liaison between the Economic Development Commission and the First Selectman’s Office. With no staff liaison to the Economic Development Commission, the commission is not as productive as they could be to meaningfully help the town achieve its economic development priorities. With our experienced municipal economic development staff who has served in this staff liaison role for over 15 years in various Connecticut towns, CERC provides the staff liaison function for Woodbridge’s Economic Development Commission. This function includes (but is not limited to):
- Preparing monthly agenda with the First Selectman’s office;
- Attending the EDC meetings and guiding the commission;
- Brainstorming new functions for the EDC and working with the EDC leaders to enact those roles; and
- Following up after monthly EDC meetings with relevant staff and stakeholders to continue the momentum.
CERC uses one dedicated consultant to work with Woodbridge’s EDC, allowing that individual the ability to become familiar with Woodbridge so that they are best able to support the town in its economic development efforts. Having a consistent individual in this function is critical to its success as that person can get to know the commissioners and the business community, make meaningful connections, follow projects through from start to finish, and become a trusted advisor in the community.
Beth Heller, First Selectman, Town of Woodbridge