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Mayor Kim Janey today announced that Emme Handy will be departing the City of Boston after three successful years of managing City finances to return to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Handy first joined the Broad in 2015 after working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 2007. Justin Sterritt has been appointed to the role of Chief Financial Officer, effective April 16, 2021 after serving as Budget Director for the City since October 2017.
“Emme has overseen the budget soundly and thoughtfully for a number of years and I thank her for her contributions to the City of Boston,” said Mayor Janey. “The experience she brought to the City of Boston from state government and the Broad has proved critical, especially as she had to navigate uncharted waters over the past year. Emme has been steadfast throughout the pandemic to ensure that critical programs, from testing in every neighborhood to reliable food sites for families to re-opening our schools for families, could move forward for the people of Boston, while still ensuring the City’s budget was in a strong position to support our needs for years to come.”
As CFO, Sterritt (pictured) will serve as the Chief of the Administration and Finance Cabinet, where he will be responsible for all aspects of financial management for the City of Boston. In this role, he will continue the sound fiscal stewardship of the City’s human and financial resources to support the long term growth and stability of the city. His financial responsibilities include debt and investment management, financial reporting, budget development and oversight, tax administration, and administration of enterprise-wide financial systems. As Collector-Treasurer, he is the custodian of more than 300 City trust funds.
“I want to welcome Justin as the City of Boston’s new CFO, a role that is so important to the financial well-being of the city as we begin to recover from the pandemic, and plan for a brighter and more equitable future,” said Mayor Janey. “Justin brings a wealth of knowledge to this role, and I am confident that his years of experience in being a fiscal steward of public dollars on behalf of our residents make him well-suited to lead this office. I look forward to working alongside him as we make bold investments in our neighborhoods, and in the people of Boston.”
Sterritt brings a decade of public sector finance leadership experience including most recently serving as Director of the Office of Budget Management for the City. During his three year tenure as Budget Director he successfully developed and managed the city’s $3.5 billion annual operating budget and $3 billion five-year capital plan, while also improving the effectiveness and efficiency of municipal government. Central to the budget during this time were historic and strategic investments in public education, public health, and housing.
Sterritt has also led key strategic efforts on behalf of the City including increasing engagement and equity in the annual budget process, managing state funding dynamics including recent successful efforts to increase state funding support and supporting the City’s response and recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic during a rapidly changing and evolving economic climate. Sterritt has overseen the City’s strategy to manage both City resources but also access and maximize hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal funding and ensure it is deployed equitably in the areas it’s needed the most like public health, economic recovery and housing supports.
As CFO, Sterritt will oversee a number of City departments, including Assessing, Auditing, Budget, Community Preservation, Human Resources, Labor Relations, Purchasing, Registry, the Retirement Board, Collecting, and Treasury.
“I’m humbled and excited by the opportunity to serve my City in this new capacity, and thankful to Secretary Walsh and Mayor Janey for their faith in bringing me in to serve the City and appointing me Chief Financial Officer,” said Justin Sterritt. “I have been fortunate over the past three years to learn from the integrity, skill and vision that Emme Handy brought to the CFO role, and the A&F team she assembled is the envy of any major local government in the country. I’m thrilled to help build on the City’s strong financial standing and help implement a bold agenda under Mayor Janey while we continue the City’s robust response to COVID-19.”
Prior to joining the City of Boston, Sterritt spent over six years in various finance and policy roles for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He spent three years with the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means, departing as Budget Director. In this role, Sterritt oversaw the analysis, development and execution of the House of Representatives' annual State operating budget. Sterritt directed a staff that reviewed, analyzed, and recommended funding for $40 billion in state spending and revenue.
Before joining House Ways and Means, Sterritt served in the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (A&F), the state agency charged with managing the Commonwealth's finances, where he was responsible for the fiscal and policy recommendations of the Early Education, K-12, Local Aid and Higher Education systems. Prior to A&F, Sterritt served in the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development on state and local infrastructure projects, and public financing for economic development initiatives throughout the Commonwealth.
With the appointment of Sterritt, Drew Smith (pictured) will assume the role of Deputy Chief Financial Officer. As Deputy CFO, Smith will support the CFO in overseeing management of the City’s financial resources. Smith has served as Head of Treasury since November 2017 and brings over three years of experience managing the City’s revenue and distributions, long-term debt and trust funds. In his current role, he has overseen initiatives to modernize and maximize revenue collection, managed successful bond sales and led an initiative to update the City’s Cash Policy, which included launching the City’s Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Investment Initiative and Boston’s Community Bank Investment Initiative.
Prior to serving as the City’s Head of Treasury, Smith brought over ten years of experience in treasury roles, including his most recent role serving as Deputy Assistant Treasurer for Debt Management at the Massachusetts State Treasury.
Emme Handy will be rejoining the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she previously worked for nearly three years. Handy served as CFO and Chief of the Administration and Finance Cabinet for the City since January 2018. As CFO, Handy has successfully maintained the City’s commitment to the sound fiscal stewardship of the City’s human and financial resources. During her time as CFO, the City achieved AAA bond ratings for three years in a row and the seventh consecutive year overall. She has overseen the transformation of the City into a modern, employee-focused employer, led a cross-cabinet initiative to implement improvements to internal business processes and procedures aimed at creating a more equitable and diverse procurement process as well as increasing transparency, accessibility and efficiency in the City’s procurement processes, and expanded the City’s paid parental leave benefit available to eligible employees. Additionally, she has played a leadership role in supporting City through the COVID-19 pandemic, overseeing both the financial and workforce related responses.
The nonprofit Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard aims to empower the next generation of creative scientists to transform medicine with new genome-based knowledge and develop effective new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics. Handy will be serving as Senior Advisor to the Chief Operating Officer, supporting the Broad as it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing testing services in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public health for local hospitals, clinics and high-need communities, colleges and universities, and many Massachusetts K-12 schools; advances therapeutics and drug discovery; and launches a new initiative to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to advance connections between data and life sciences to transform biology and ultimately improve human health.
“It has been an incredible honor to serve the City of Boston as Chief Financial Officer,” said Emme Handy. “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to serve my community and my neighbors, the residents of Boston, over the past few years. I would like to thank Secretary Walsh and Mayor Janey for the opportunity to serve in this capacity. It has been an honor to serve Mayor Janey during the mayoral transition. Justin Sterritt, my friend and longtime colleague, is a model public servant who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role. The City is lucky to have him and I know he will continue the City’s commitment to fiscally responsible management as CFO. I’m thrilled to return to the Broad at this pivotal time to support the Institute’s transformative work to improve human health.”
The Administration and Finance Cabinet ensures that city services are delivered with high quality, with high ethical standards, are financially prudent, are responsive to the needs of the citizens of Boston, and consistent with the laws and ordinances governing municipal government.
Most recently, the City of Boston announced that it has maintained triple-A bond ratings, as assigned by Moody's Investor Service and S&P Global Ratings, in advance of its 2020 bond sale. Since 2014, the City has continued to receive the top credit rating from both rating agencies. The agencies' affirmations of Boston's strong financial health are a recognition of the City's fiscal management during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information about the City’s budget, visit boston.gov/budget. For more information about the City’s investor relations, visit BuyBostonBonds.com.
First-ever issue of Green Bonds; benefits from high credit ratings
The City of Boston’s strong financial standing and go-to-market timing were instrumental in its successful December 9th bond sale where the City issued $272.0M in General Obligation (GO) bonds. The City delayed its bond sale from March, when Boston has typically gone to market, to the fall, largely due to pandemic-related market uncertainty in the spring and for cash flow benefits from diversifying the City’s principal payment schedule.
For the first time the City issued green bonds, with proceeds totaling $32.1M for energy efficiency and climate resiliency projects—a significant part of the City’s goal to advance sustainable investments as part of its environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiative. The sale also included social bonds with total proceeds of $35.0M for affordable housing projects to be carried out by the Boston Housing Authority (BHA). The green bond and social bond sales combined produced savings worth $11.2M, which will be realized over the next 14 years.
For the first time in 20 years, the City went to market with a negotiated sale approach instead of a competitive sale. Using a negotiated method of sale enabled Boston to sell to both individual and institutional investors, providing the City the chance to expand its investor base and prioritize retail investors and smaller, local buyers. In a competitive sale investment banks bid against each other on a predetermined auction date and the issuer goes with the best price, with the winning bank reselling the bonds to investors at its discretion. A negotiated sale involves engaging a group (or “syndicate”) of underwriters with which an issuer negotiates terms of the bond purchase in advance.
2020 BOND SALE FACTS
Highest Ratings Reaffirmed
Moody’s reaffirmed its highest bond rating of Aaa for Boston, first awarded in 2011, and S&P Global reaffirmed its AAA rating, which was first awarded in March 2014 (see ratings going back to 1973 here). Both agencies identified environmental risks that Boston faces, including storm and sea rise vulnerability, but noted city management has made proactive efforts to manage these risks.
What the Rating Agencies Say *
Positive Factors Benefiting Boston:
Constraining Factors Being Watched:
High personnel costs tied to collective bargaining with strong unions, including contracts for the city’s four police unions that expired in FY20.
Large and diverse tax base of $179.8B (2019-2020 equalized value), which has grown 74.6% or $76.8B since 2013. New development in FY21 is projected to be in line with prior years.
Growing long-term unfunded liabilities for pensions and retiree health care (OPEB) relative to year-to-year budgetary growth.
Strong city and financial management resulting in consecutive surpluses and budgetary flexibility to meet short- and long-term policy goals.
Education spending challenges, including COVID-19 impact on state aid for education and managing services for a diverse student population.
Manageable debt levels from stable revenue generation and conservative debt policy.
Potential impact on budgetary performance related to public health and economic conditions.
Maintenance of healthy reserves and strong cash position of $1.4B (40.8% of general fund revenues) at the close of FY19.
_* _Based on November 2020 Moody’s and S&P Global credit reports.
Building on a continued effort to promote sustainable and responsible investment, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced a commitment of an additional $50 million towards the City of Boston's Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Investment Initiative. This commitment brings the City's total investment in the ESG Initiative to $200 million, which will be invested in the short-term fixed income securities (i.e. short-term bonds and notes) of companies that maintain strong corporate ESG practices. Mayor Walsh launched the ESG Investment Initiative last year with an initial commitment of $150 million to encourage sustainable investment policies in Boston.
The City also provided an update on last week's bond sale, in which Boston issued its first ever series of Green Bonds, which will fund energy efficiency projects, and Social Bonds, which will fund affordable housing projects. Based on the results of the sale, in which the City successfully issued green bonds with lower interest costs than their non-green counterparts, Boston believes it has shown the largest and most definitive pricing benefit to date for bonds carrying the green label. The City believes this is an important first step in demonstrating that there is more than a marketing advantage in selling green bonds.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the launch of three new funds totaling $6.3 million that will support small businesses within the City of Boston that have been affected by COVID-19, focusing on commercial rent relief, supporting certified women, minority, and veteran owned small businesses, and restaurant payroll and rental relief. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Boston has allocated more than $15 million toward direct grants to small businesses.
As the City of Boston continues to lead nationally on urgent climate action, Climate Mayors today announced that Mayor Martin J. Walsh has been named Chair of the coalition of 468 U.S. mayors committed to bold environmental action and upholding the Paris Climate Agreement. In this role, Mayor Walsh will help catalyze efforts to combat climate change at the local level, provide an example of climate action for leaders at all levels of government, and advocate for an economic recovery founded in equity and environmental stewardship. Mayor Walsh succeeds Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who founded Climate Mayors, and has also served as the network's Chair since its launch in 2014.
Building on his Resilient Boston Harbor plan to enhance Boston’s waterfront and protect vulnerable neighborhoods from s ea level rise and coastal flooding due to climate change, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today released two reports, "Coastal Resilience Solutions for Downtown Boston and North End" and "Coastal Resilience Solutions for Dorchester" . The reports are rooted in Imagine Boston 2030 and advance the work of Climate Ready Boston, the City’s initiative to develop solutions to prepare Boston for the impacts of climate change. The strategies presented in each report outline a roadmap for near- and long-term solutions to protect from coastal flooding, increase access and open space along the waterfront, and enhance the public-private collaboration necessary for stakeholders in each neighborhood required for successful transformation and protection.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the reopening of applications for the Rental Relief Fund, created in early April to help Boston residents at risk of losing their housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund reopened with $5 million available to help residents pay their rent following the end of the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on October 17. Over the last six months, the Fund distributed more than $3 million in payments to landlords on behalf of more than 1,000 households. More than fifty percent of the households that have been awarded funds earn less than $58,000 per year with two income earners. Qualified residents interested in applying to this round of funding can submit their application online, available in 11 languages.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced he has proposed an order that will allow the City of Boston to participate in the Massachusetts Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE), a tax-based financing mechanism that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy improvements in existing commercial, industrial, nonprofit, and multifamily buildings with five or more units. By adopting this program, the City of Boston is building on the strategies identified in the 2019 Climate Action Plan to accelerate decarbonization in the city's largest buildings and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Mayor Walsh announced today that the City of Boston is celebrating national Energy Efficiency Day. Read the proclamation. Energy efficiency is critical to achieve Mayor Walsh’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050 and protect Boston and its communities from the effects of climate change. Energy efficiency creates jobs, saves money, and decreases pollution. It is necessary to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and work toward a healthy, climate resilient, and thriving Boston.
May 7, 2018
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced Boston has maintained its perfect AAA bond rating, as assigned by Moody's Investor Service and S&P Global Ratings. The City has maintained the top credit ratings from both rating agencies since 2014.
According to Moody's Investor Service, Boston's AAA rating reflects the city's strong fiscal management and stable financial position, as well as its large and growing tax base with economic diversity bolstered by significant government, higher education and healthcare sectors. The rating also takes into account Boston's conservatively managed debt profile and its planning efforts with respect to its pension obligations.
"In Boston, we're committed to creating opportunities for all, and lifting up Boston's working families," said Mayor Walsh. "To do that, we need to maintain a strong fiscal foundation that allows us to invest in the programs and policies that make a difference. I'm proud Boston once again has achieved a AAA bond rating, allowing us to continue successfully planning for our city's future."
"By tackling our long-term liabilities, controlling costs and using data to drive city spending, the Mayor has prioritized strong financial management," said Emme Handy, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Boston. "This bond rating highlights our commitment to Boston's long-term prosperity as we continue to make record investments in our priorities."
S&P Global Ratings cites Boston's "very strong" economy as reason for its AAA rating. Contributing to Boston's strong economy is its talented, diverse workforce; longstanding financial and insurance industries, as well as the city's growing reputation as a tech hub; central location; and recruitment and retainment of college graduates in the city. In addition, S&P also highlighted Boston's history of proactively addressing future challenges through the city's long-term plans. Included in these highlights are Boston's Climate Action Plan, which addressing goals for reducing greenhouse emission by 2050; Climate Ready Boston, which develops resilient solutions to prepare Boston for climate change; Go Boston 2030, which aims to ensure equitable, reliable and safe transportation for all residents; and Housing a Changing City, Boston's housing plan which already is well on its way to creating 53,000 new units of housing by 2030.
These ratings build on Mayor Walsh's commitment to financial responsibility throughout the City of Boston. Over the past five years, Boston's revenue has grown by 25 percent, and the city has added 80,000 new jobs over the last four years. Boston also recently launched Boston's new investor outreach platform, BuyBostonBonds.com. The new website is the latest step in the city's continued efforts to optimize financial disclosure and is designed to drive investment in Boston's debt, which helps pay for capital projects and investments the City makes. More information about this platform and what it means for investors and residents is also available here.
Last month, Mayor Walsh presented his Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget proposal, a plan that affirms a commitment to progress, opportunity and innovation by investing in Boston's neighborhoods, while building on the City's strong record of proactive fiscal management. The $3.29 billion plan builds on the Walsh Administration's commitment to accelerating progress in key areas, investing in a growing middle class through strong 21st-century schools; good jobs; affordable homes in safe neighborhoods; providing pathways to opportunities; supporting public safety for a growing city; and improving core city services to benefit all residents.