Boulder City’s financial status has never been better. That’s music to my ears because one of my top five mayor’s vision priorities has always been keeping our financial house in order. Prudent financial stewardship is also one of the five overriding goals of our recently adopted strategic plan, as it always should be.
Debt reduction is a critical component of that fiscal responsibility. In fact, accelerating debt payments has been a highlight of every financial plan that we’ve adopted since I joined the City Council in 2011.
When I was first elected, the city had five major debts totaling over $96 million in principal and interest. Today, by contrast, our general fund is debt-free. And our utility fund has only one major debt remaining with approximately $26 million in principal left to pay and another $10 million in interest. That’s a savings to our citizens of over $60 million since 2011.
We also have the potential to save millions more if we continue to find ways to aggressively pay down our debt obligations. And that’s precisely what I urged my colleagues and city staff to do when we adopted our most recent financial plan last month.
Low tax rates are also an important component of fiscal responsibility. And Boulder City’s are by far the lowest in Southern Nevada. Our residents are only assessed about 26 cents per $100 in valuation. Mesquite is more than twice that much. Henderson and Las Vegas are three times as much. And North Las Vegas is over four times as much. We’re certainly blessed when it comes to low tax rates, and I’m thankful to those who have joined me in the fight to keep it that way.
We also enjoy the lowest utility rates in Southern Nevada by a long shot. Residents in Henderson, Las Vegas, Clark County and North Las Vegas pay a third more than we do for typical electricity usage. And their overall utility rates are still 10 percent to 25 percent greater than ours. In addition, after years of my insistence that we stop kicking the can down the road, we’re finally replacing our aging utility infrastructure with approximately $8 million in upgrade and replacement projects scheduled annually over the next decade and beyond.
During my first six years on City Council, I also had the good fortune of serving on the Southern Nevada Health District board of directors, including two consecutive terms as chairman. That enabled me to spearhead two landfill expansions, which extended our landfill’s remaining life from less than 10 years to well over 100 years, even by conservative estimates.
These expansions will save Boulder City residents tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars over the coming decades by not having to ship our trash to Apex. Plus, our twice-a-week trash pickup service and virtually cost-free single-stream recycling programs not only boast top-notch customer service ratings but are also among the most affordable in Clark County.
Healthy revenue streams are also important to any solid financial plan. In that regard, Boulder City is certainly fortunate to have many amazing solar lease partners that help to supplement our traditional revenue sources. In 2011, our solar lease revenues were barely $3 million annually, which is certainly nothing to scoff at. But since then, we’ve more than tripled them to approximately $10 million annually. Moreover, as various solar projects continue to convert from option phases to construction and operational phases, our solar lease revenue stream will become even healthier.
In addition to internal revenue streams, we’ve also been able to secure outside revenue to help with important projects. For instance, in my role on the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s board of directors, I was able to obtain approximately $13 million to fund the design and construction of our upcoming Boulder City Parkway complete streets project.
I’m very thankful to all of my fellow council members for their service on important regional boards such as this. I’m confident that the relationships of trust and collaboration we’ve been able to forge will continue to pay great dividends to Boulder City for decades to come.
I’m also happy to report that after years of consistent effort, the city now has solid annual and long-term rollover plans in place to keep us financially stable into the foreseeable future. Among those are our annual financial plan, our rolling five-year capital improvement project plan, and our five-year strategic plan. Also in the works is a new economic development plan.
Add to that the very rare feat of a completely clean audit with zero findings this past year and I think you’ll agree that the city is on extremely solid financial ground. There will always be room for improvement, and we’ll continue to do that by diversifying revenue streams and in many other ways.
But I feel extremely confident, proud and blessed to live in Boulder City where financial stability is more than just a wish or even a promise.
Rod Woodbury is mayor of Boulder City. He has been serving on the City Council since 2011 and is the president and managing shareholder of his law firm, Woodbury Law.