Municipal finance done the right way

By John Larrabee
Contributing Writer
While some Rhode Island cities and towns are teetering toward bankruptcy, South Kingstown is on sound financial footing – and has been for years. The pension system for town employees is almost fully funded, the bond rating is near the top, and happy taxpayers will see no rate increase this year. More

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Municipal finance done the right way

PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
ON THE RIGHT COURSE: Alan R. Lord, South Kingstown's municipal finance director, began working for the town in 1980, when he was hired as town accountant. A year later, he was promoted to finance director.
By John Larrabee
Contributing Writer
Posted 4/9/12

While some Rhode Island cities and towns are teetering toward bankruptcy, South Kingstown is on sound financial footing – and has been for years. The pension system for town employees is almost fully funded, the bond rating is near the top, and happy taxpayers will see no rate increase this year.

Those are some of the reasons why Alan R. Lord, South Kingstown’s municipal-finance director, has been recognized as one of Rhode Island’s top chief financial officers. The town’s strong position is nothing new. Lord has kept the community on a firm fiscal keel for 30 years – through boom times and recessions – and has seen it expand into one of the fastest-growing suburbs in the state.

“Alan Lord has consistently distinguished himself within the municipal-finance profession on both a local and statewide basis,” said Stephen A. Alfred, South Kingstown’s town manager. “Managing the broad scope of finance-based responsibilities at the local level has not prevented him from achieving extraordinary end results,” he said. An example of this is exhibited in the fact that the town has limited the tax-levy increase over the past five years to less than 2 percent per year, an accomplishment unparalleled by other Rhode Island communities, Alfred added.

Lord is modest when asked about his success. “I work for a great leader,” he said, giving credit to Alfred. “He’s been here even longer than I have. And I have a great support group in my department employees. Everything we accomplish here is really a team effort.”

South Kingstown, which includes the villages of Kingston, West Kingston, Peace Dale and Wakefield, is home to more than 30,000 people, and annual revenue reaches almost $90 million. For much of the past two decades, the town experienced a building boom, with the result that since 1980 the population has nearly doubled. Beach-goers flock to the area in summer months, and students from the University of Rhode Island crowd the streets the rest of the year.

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