Ample cash reserves enabled Boston to offset sluggish growth in revenue relative to expenditures in recent years, according to Morningstar Municipal Research.

Fiscal 2012 data show a return to operating surplus for Massachusetts' capital city after its first years of general fund declines in 2010 and 2011. Morningstar analyst Rachel Barkley cited a $36.8 million addition to reserves, driven by a 10.2% revenue increase due mostly to intergovernmental, property tax and excise tax revenue.

Boston ended the year with $690 million in its general fund, equal to 28% of spending, "providing ample financial cushion," Barkley wrote.

The city's general-fund balance plummeted in 2010 due to a $126.8 million payment to help reduce unfunded pension liability. One year later, Boston contributed $82 million to the pension system. "However, overall fund balance levels remained high," Barkley wrote.

Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's rate the bonds Aaa and AA-plus, respectively. All three assign stable outlooks. The city sold $169 million of general obligation bonds in February.

Thomas Menino, the city's mayor since 1993, is not seeking re-election.

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