Wilmington’s “Free Cash” Reserves Approaching $24 Million

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Town Accountant Mike Morris recently announced the town’s free cash has been certified in the amount of $23,608,625 by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

“Free Cash allows communities to address financial problems, supplement budgets, and to take advantage of opportunities as they rise,” Morris wrote in a memo to the Board of Selectmen. “In recent years, the town has taken advantage of Free Cash to purchase land, fund capital outlay, further fund the Capital Stabilization Fund, and to address liabilities such as OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) and retirement.”

The town’s free cash amount has steadily climbed over the past ten years, most recently from increasing $15.3 million (2015) to $18.3 million (2016) to $21.6 million (2017) to $23.6 million (2018).

“That number is a consequence of money that is unexpended in budgets that gets turned back to the town’s general fund.  It’s a consequence of conservative budgeting,” Town Manager Jeff Hull explained during last year’s Free Cash discussion. 

Hull previously outlined several benefits to a having a healthy reserve account, including:

  • Rating agencies determine a town’s bond rating, in part, by its free cash amount, which represents financial flexibility. (The town maintains a AA+ Bond Rating.)
  • Free cash allows the town to “seize upon opportunities” that may unexpectedly arise, such as the purchase of the land next to St. Dorothy’s Church several years ago.
  • Another economic recession will occur eventually. The rainy day(s) will come. During the last recession, Wilmington – unlike many municipalities around the state – had enough free cash to draw upon to avoid any staff layoffs or cuts in programs and services during the downturn.

The certification, which took place on November 15, is based on the town’s total as of July 1, 2018.

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