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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

(Mark One)
ý
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009

o
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Commission file number 0-24751

SALISBURY BANCORP, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Connecticut
 
06-1514263
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
 
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
     
5 Bissell Street, Lakeville, CT
 
06039
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
(Zip code)

(Registrant's telephone number, including area code:    (860) 435-9801

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Common Stock, par value $.10 per share
 
NYSE Amex Equities
(Title of each class)
 
(Name of each exchange on which registered)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:     None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. o Yes  ý No

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. o Yes  ý No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes ý No o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). o Yes  o No

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendments to this Form 10-K o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

Large accelerated filer o Accelerated filer o Non-accelerated filer o Smaller reporting company ý

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Exchange Act Rule 12b-2).  Yes o No ý

The aggregate market value of common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 30, 2009 was $38,031,755 based on the closing sales price of $24.31 of such stock. The number of shares of the registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of March 3, 2010, was 1,686,701.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant's definitive Proxy Statement dated April 9, 2010 for the 2010 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III (Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14) of this Form 10-K.
 


 
1

 
 
FORM 10-K
SALISBURY BANCORP, INC.
For the Year Ended December 31, 2009
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
   
Description
 
Page
PART I
       
Item 1.
   
3
Item 1A.
   
13
Item 1B.
   
16
Item 2.
   
16
Item 3.
   
16
Item 4.
   
17
PART II
       
Item 5.
   
17
Item 6.
   
17
Item 7.
   
19
Item 7A.
   
31
Item 8.
   
33
Item 9.
   
63
Item 9A(T).
   
63
Item 9B.
   
63
PART III
       
Item 10.
   
63
Item 11.
   
64
Item 12.
   
64
Item 13.
   
64
Item 14.
   
64
PART IV
       
Item 15.
   
64


PART I

Forward-Looking Statements

This Annual Report on Form 10-K may contain and incorporates by reference statements relating to future results of Salisbury Bancorp, Inc. ("Salisbury") that are considered “forward-looking” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  These statements relate to, among other things, expectations concerning loan demand, growth and performance, simulated changes in interest rates and the adequacy of the allowance for loan losses.  Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, changes in political and economic conditions, interest rate fluctuations, competitive product and pricing pressures within Salisbury’s markets, equity and fixed income market fluctuations, personal and corporate customers’ bankruptcies, inflation, acquisitions and integrations of acquired businesses, technological changes, changes in law and regulations, changes in fiscal, monetary, regulatory and tax policies, monetary fluctuations, success in gaining  regulatory approvals when required as well as other risks and uncertainties reported from time to time in Salisbury’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

BUSINESS

Salisbury Bancorp, Inc.

Salisbury Bancorp, Inc. ("Salisbury"), a Connecticut corporation, formed in 1998, is the bank holding company for Salisbury Bank and Trust Company (the "Bank"), a Connecticut-chartered and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the "FDIC") insured commercial bank headquartered in Lakeville, Connecticut. Salisbury common stock is traded on the NYSE Amex Equities under the symbol “SAL”. Salisbury's principal business consists of the business of the Bank.  The Bank, formed in 1848, provides commercial banking, consumer financing, retail banking and trust and wealth advisory services through eight banking offices, 10 ATMs and its internet website (www.salisburybank.com).

Lending Activities

General

The Bank originates commercial loans, commercial real estate loans, residential and commercial construction loans, residential real estate loans collateralized by one- to- four family residences, home equity lines of credit and fixed rate loans and other consumer loans predominately in the States of Connecticut’s Litchfield County, Massachusetts’ Berkshire County and New York’s Dutchess County in towns proximate to the Bank’s 8 full service offices.

Real estate secured the majority of the Bank’s loans as of December 31, 2009, including some loans classified as commercial loans. Interest rates charged on loans are affected principally by the Bank’s current asset/liability strategy, the demand for such loans, the cost and supply of money available for lending purposes and the rates offered by competitors. These factors are, in turn, affected by general economic and credit conditions, monetary policies of the federal government, including the Federal Reserve Board (the “FRB”), federal and state tax policies and budgetary matters.

Residential Real Estate Loans

A principal lending activity of the Bank is to originate prime loans secured by first mortgages on one-to-four family residences. The Bank originates residential real estate loans through commissioned mortgage representatives. The Bank originates both fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgages.

The Bank currently sells the majority of the fixed rate residential real estate loans it originates, except for certain long term fixed rate loans to borrowers with low to moderate income, to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston under the Mortgage Partnership Finance program while retaining servicing.

The retention of adjustable rate residential mortgage loans in the portfolio and the sale of longer term, fixed rate residential mortgage loans helps reduce the Bank’s exposure to interest rate risk. However, adjustable rate mortgages generally pose credit risks different from the credit risks inherent in fixed rate loans primarily because as interest rates rise, the underlying debt service payments of the borrowers rise, thereby increasing the potential for default. Management believes that these risks, which have not had a material adverse effect on the Bank to date, generally are less onerous than the interest rate risks associated with holding long-term fixed rate loans in the loan portfolio.

Commercial Real Estate Loans

The Bank makes commercial real estate loans for the purpose of acquiring, developing, constructing, improving or refinancing commercial real estate where the property is the primary collateral securing the loan, and the income generated from the property is the primary repayment source. Office buildings, light industrial, retail facilities or multi-family income properties, normally collateralize commercial real estate loans. Among the reasons for management’s continued emphasis on commercial real estate lending is the desire to invest in assets with yields which are generally higher than yields on one-to-four family residential mortgage loans, and are more sensitive to changes in market interest rates. These loans typically have terms of up to 25 years and interest rates which adjust over periods of 3 to 10 years based on one of various rate indices.

 
Commercial real estate lending generally poses a greater credit risk than residential mortgage lending to owner occupants. The repayment of commercial real estate loans depends on the business and financial condition of the borrower. Economic events and changes in government regulations, which the Bank and its borrowers do not control, could have an adverse impact on the cash flows generated by properties securing commercial real estate loans and on the market value of such properties. Commercial properties tend to decline in value more rapidly than residential owner-occupied properties during economic recessions and individual loans on commercial properties tend to be larger than individual loans on residential properties.

Construction Loans

The Bank originates both residential and commercial construction loans. Typically loans are made to owner-borrowers who will occupy the properties (residential and commercial construction) and to licensed and experienced developers for the construction of single-family homes.

The proceeds of commercial construction loans are disbursed in stages and the terms may require developers to pre-sell a certain percentage of the properties they plan to build before the Bank will advance any construction financing. Bank officers, appraisers and/or independent engineers inspect each project’s progress before additional funds are disbursed to verify that borrowers have completed project phases.

Residential construction loans to owner-borrowers generally convert to a fully amortizing long-term mortgage loan upon completion of construction. Commercial construction loans generally have terms of six months to two years. Some construction-to-permanent loans have fixed interest rates for the permanent portion, but the Bank originates mostly adjustable rate construction loans.

Construction lending, particularly commercial construction lending, poses greater credit risk than mortgage lending to owner occupants. The repayment of commercial construction loans depends on the business and financial condition of the borrower and on the economic viability of the project financed. A number of borrowers have more than one construction loan outstanding with the Bank at any one time. Economic events and changes in government regulations, which the Bank and its borrowers do not control, could have an adverse impact on the value of properties securing construction loans and on the borrower’s ability to complete projects financed and, if not the borrower’s residence, sell them for amounts anticipated at the time the projects commenced.

Commercial Loans

Commercial loans are primarily collateralized by equipment, inventory, accounts receivable and/or leases. Many of the Bank’s commercial loans are also collateralized by real estate, but are not classified as commercial real estate loans because such loans are not made for the purpose of acquiring, refinancing or constructing the real estate securing the loan. Commercial loans primarily provide working capital, equipment financing, financing for leasehold improvements and financing for expansion. The Bank offers both term and revolving commercial loans. Term loans have either fixed or adjustable rates of interest and, generally, terms of between two and seven years. Term loans generally amortize during their life, although some loans require a balloon payment at maturity if the amortization exceeds seven years. Revolving commercial lines of credit typically have one or two-year terms, are renewable annually and have a floating rate of interest which are normally indexed to the Bank’s “base rate” of interest and occasionally indexed to the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”).

Commercial lending generally poses a higher degree of credit risk than real estate lending. Repayment of both secured and unsecured commercial loans depends substantially on the success of the borrower’s underlying business, financial condition and cash flows. Unsecured loans generally involve a higher degree of risk of loss than do secured loans because, without collateral, repayment is primarily dependent upon the success of the borrower’s business. There are very few unsecured loans in the Bank’s portfolio.

Secured commercial loans are generally collateralized by equipment, inventory, accounts receivable and leases. Compared to real estate, such collateral is more difficult to monitor, its value is more difficult to validate, it may depreciate more rapidly and it may not be as readily saleable if repossessed.

Consumer Loans

The Bank originates various types of consumer loans, including home equity loans and lines of credit, auto, and personal installment loans. Home equity loans and lines of credit are secured by one-to-four family owner-occupied properties, typically by second mortgages. Home equity loans have fixed interest rates, while home equity lines of credit normally adjust based on the Bank’s base rate of interest. Consumer loans are originated through the branch network.

Credit Risk Management and Asset Quality

One of the Bank’s key objectives is to maintain a high level of asset quality. The Bank utilizes the following general practices to manage credit risk: limiting the amount of credit that individual lenders may extend; establishing a process for credit approval accountability; careful initial underwriting and analysis of borrower, transaction, market and collateral risks; ongoing servicing of individual loans and lending relationships; continuous monitoring of the portfolio, market dynamics and the economy; and periodically reevaluating the Bank’s strategy and overall exposure as economic, market and other relevant conditions change.


Credit Administration is responsible for the completion of credit analyses for all loans above a specific threshold, for determining loan loss reserve adequacy and for preparing monthly and quarterly reports regarding the credit quality of the loan portfolio, which are submitted to Loan Committee to ensure compliance with the credit policy. In addition, Credit Administration is responsible for managing non-performing and classified assets. On a quarterly basis, the Loan Committee reviews commercial and commercial real estate loans that are risk rated Special Mention or worse, focusing on the current status and strategies to improve the credit.

The loan review function is outsourced to a third party to provide an evaluation of the creditworthiness of the borrower and the appropriateness of the risk rating classifications. The findings are reported to Credit Administration and summary information is then presented to the Loan Committee.

Trust and Wealth Advisory Services

The Bank provides a range of fiduciary and trust services and general investment management and wealth advisory services to individuals, families and institutions.

Investments

The primary objective of the investment portfolio is to achieve a profitable rate of return on the investments over a reasonable period of time based on prudent management practices and sensible risk taking. The portfolio is also used to help manage the net interest rate risk position of the Bank. As a tool to manage interest rate risk, the flexibility to utilize long term fixed rate investments is quite limited. In view of the Bank’s lending capacity and generally higher rates of return on loans, management prefers lending activities as its primary source of revenue with the securities portfolio serving a secondary role. The investment portfolio, however, is expected to continue to represent a significant portion of the Bank’s assets, and includes U.S. Government and Agency securities, mortgage-backed securities, collateralized mortgage obligations and bank qualified tax exempt municipal bonds. The portfolio will continue to serve the Bank’s liquidity needs as projected by management and as required by regulatory authorities. The portfolio is also used to collateralize certain types of deposits.

Sources of Funds

The Bank uses deposits, repayments and prepayments of loans and securities, proceeds from sales of loans and securities and proceeds from maturing securities and borrowings to fund lending, investing and general operations. Deposits represent the Bank’s primary source of funds.

Deposits

The Bank offers a variety of deposit accounts with a range of interest rates and other terms, which are designed to meet customer financial needs. Retail and commercial deposits are received through the Bank’s banking offices. Additional depositor related services provided to customers includes ATM, telephone, Internet Banking and Internet Bill Pay services.

The FDIC insures deposits up to certain limits (generally, $100,000 per depositor and $250,000 for certain retirement plan accounts). The Economic Emergency Stabilization Act (“EESA”) raised the $100,000 limit on insured deposits to $250,000 through December 31, 2013. In addition, under the FDIC’s Temporary Liquidity Guaranty Program (“TLGP”), non-interest bearing transaction deposit accounts and interest-bearing transaction accounts paying 50 basis points or less will be fully insured above and beyond the $250,000 limit through June 30, 2010.

Deposit flows are significantly influenced by economic conditions, the general level of interest rates and the relative attractiveness of competing deposit and investment alternatives. Deposit pricing strategy is monitored weekly by the Pricing Committee, composed of members of Senior Management. When determining deposit pricing, the Bank considers strategic objectives, competitive market rates, deposit flows, funding commitments and investment alternatives, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (the “FHLBB”) advance rates and rates on other sources of funds.

National, regional and local economic and credit conditions, changes in competitor money market, savings and time deposit rates, prevailing market interest rates and competing investment alternatives all have a significant impact on the level of the Bank’s deposits. In 2009, deposit generation was a key focus for the banking industry as a source of liquidity and to fund asset growth due to the recessive economy and tightening credit conditions experienced over the year. As a result, competition for deposits has been and is expected to remain strong.

Borrowings

The Bank is a member of the FHLBB  that provides credit facilities  for regulated, federally insured depository institutions and certain other home financing institutions. Members of the FHLBB are required to own capital stock in the FHLBB and are authorized to apply for advances on the security of their FHLBB stock and certain home mortgages and other assets (principally securities, which are obligations of, or guaranteed by, the United States Government or its agencies) provided certain creditworthiness standards have been met. Under its current credit policies, the FHLBB limits advances based on a member’s assets, total borrowings and net worth. Long-term and short-term FHLBB advances are utilized as a source of funding to meet liquidity and planning needs when the cost of these funds are favorable as compared to deposits or alternate funding sources.

Additional funding sources are available through securities sold under agreements to repurchase and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.


Subsidiaries

Salisbury has one subsidiary, Salisbury Bank and Trust Company.  The Bank is Salisbury's primary subsidiary and accounts for the majority of Salisbury's income.  At December 31, 2009, the Bank had two wholly-owned subsidiaries, SBT Mortgage Service Corporation and SBT Realty, Incorporated. SBT Mortgage Service Corporation is a passive investment company ("PIC") that holds loans collateralized by real estate originated or purchased by the Bank.  Income of the PIC and its dividends to Salisbury are exempt from the Connecticut Corporate Business Tax.  SBT Realty, Inc. was formed to hold New York State real estate and is presently inactive.

Employees

At December 31, 2009, the Bank had 133 full-time employees and 17 part-time employees. None of the employees were represented by a collective bargaining group. The Bank maintains a comprehensive employee benefit program providing, among other benefits, group medical and dental insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, a pension plan and an employee 401(k) investment plan. Management considers relations with its employees to be good.

Market Area

Salisbury and the Bank are headquartered in Lakeville, Connecticut, which is located in the northwestern quadrant of Connecticut’s Litchfield County. The Bank has 8 banking offices located in Connecticut's Litchfield County, Massachusetts’ Berkshire County and New York’s Dutchess County.  The Bank’s primary deposit gathering and lending area consists of the communities and surrounding towns that are served by its branch network in Litchfield, Berkshire and Dutchess counties. The Bank also has deposit , lending and trust relationships outside of these areas.

Competition

The Bank faces strong competition in attracting and retaining deposits and in making loans.  The primary factors in competing for deposits are interest rates, personalized services, the quality and range of financial services, convenience of office locations, automated services and office hours. Its most direct competition for deposits and loans has come from commercial banks, savings banks and credit unions located in its market area. Competition for deposits also comes from non-banking companies such as brokerage houses that offer a range of deposit and deposit-like products. Although the Bank expects this continuing competition to have an effect upon the cost of funds, it does not anticipate any substantial adverse effect on maintaining the current deposit base. The Bank is competitive within its market area in the various deposit products it offers to depositors.  Due to this fact, management believes the Bank has the ability to maintain its deposit base.  The Bank does not rely upon any individual, group or entity for a significant portion of its deposits.

The Bank's competition for real estate loans comes primarily from mortgage banking companies, savings banks, commercial banks, insurance companies, and other institutional lenders.  The primary factors in competing for loans are interest rates, loan origination fees, the quality and range of lending services and personalized service. Factors that affect competition include, among others, the general availability of funds and credit, general and local economic conditions, current interest rate levels and volatility in the mortgage markets.

The banking industry is also experiencing rapid changes in technology. In addition to improving customer services, effective use of technology increases efficiency and enables financial institutions to reduce costs. Technological advances are likely to increase competition by enabling more companies to provide cost effective products and services.

Regulation and Supervision

General

Salisbury is required to file reports and otherwise comply with the rules and regulations of the FRB, the Connecticut Banking Commissioner and the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) under the Federal securities laws.

The Bank is subject to extensive regulation by the Connecticut Department of Banking (the “CTDOB”), as its chartering agency, and by the FDIC, as its deposit insurer. The Bank is required to file reports with, and is periodically examined by, the FDIC and the CTDOB concerning its activities and financial condition. It must obtain regulatory approvals prior to entering into certain transactions, such as mergers.

The following discussion of the laws and regulations material to the operations of Salisbury and the Bank is a summary and is qualified in its entirety by reference to such laws and regulations. Any change in such laws or regulations, whether by the Department of Banking, the FDIC, the SEC or the FRB, could have a material adverse impact on Salisbury or the Bank.

Bank Holding Company Regulation

Salisbury is a registered bank holding company under the Bank Holding Company Act (the “BHCA”) and is subject to comprehensive regulation and regular examinations by the FRB. The FRB also has extensive enforcement authority over bank holding companies, including, among other things, the ability to assess civil money penalties, to issue cease and desist or removal orders and to require that a holding company divest subsidiaries (including its bank subsidiaries). In general, enforcement actions may be initiated for violations of law and regulations and unsafe or unsound practices. Under Connecticut banking law, no person may acquire beneficial ownership of more than 10% of any class of voting securities of a Connecticut-chartered bank, or any bank holding company of such a bank, without prior notification of, and lack of disapproval by, the CTDOB. The CTDOB will disapprove the acquisition if the bank or holding company to be acquired has been in existence for less than five years, unless the CTDOB waives this five-year restriction, or if the acquisition would result in the acquirer controlling 30% or more of the total amount of deposits in insured depository institutions in Connecticut. Similar restrictions apply to any person who holds in excess of 10% of any such class and desires to increase its holdings to 25% or more of such class.



Under FRB policy, a bank holding company must serve as a source of strength for its subsidiary bank. Under this policy, the FRB may require, and has required in the past, a holding company to contribute additional capital to an undercapitalized subsidiary bank.

Bank holding companies must obtain FRB approval before: (i) acquiring, directly or indirectly, ownership or control of another bank or bank holding company; (ii) acquiring all or substantially all of the assets of another bank or bank holding company; or (iii) merging or consolidating with another bank holding company.

The BHCA also prohibits a bank holding company, with certain exceptions, from acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of any company which is not a bank or bank holding company, or from engaging directly or indirectly in activities other than those of banking, managing or controlling banks, or providing services for its subsidiaries. The principal exceptions to these prohibitions involve certain non-bank activities which, by statute or by FRB regulation or order, have been identified as activities closely related to the business of banking or managing or controlling banks. The list of activities permitted by the FRB includes, among other things: (i) operating a savings institution, mortgage company, finance company, credit card company or factoring company; (ii) performing certain data processing operations; (iii) providing certain investment and financial advice; (iv) underwriting and acting as an insurance agent for certain types of credit-related insurance; (v) leasing property on a full-payout, non-operating basis; (vi) selling money orders, travelers’ checks and United States Savings Bonds; (vii) real estate and personal property appraising; (viii) providing tax planning and preparation services; (ix) financing and investing in certain community development activities; and (x) subject to certain limitations, providing securities brokerage services for customers.

Dividends

The FRB has issued a policy statement on the payment of cash dividends by bank holding companies, which expresses the FRB’s view that a bank holding company should be a “source of strength” to its bank subsidiary and should pay cash dividends only to the extent that the holding company’s net income for the past year is sufficient to cover both the cash dividends and a rate of earnings retention that is consistent with the holding company’s capital needs, asset quality and overall financial condition. The FRB also indicated that it would be inappropriate for a company experiencing serious financial problems to borrow funds to pay dividends. Furthermore, the FRB may prohibit a bank holding company from paying any dividends if the holding company’s bank subsidiary is classified as “undercapitalized” or if the dividend would violate applicable law or would be an unsafe or unsound banking practice.

Financial Modernization

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”) permits greater affiliation among banks, securities firms, insurance companies, and other companies under a new type of financial services company known as a “financial holding company”. A financial holding company essentially is a bank holding company with significantly expanded powers. Financial holding companies are authorized by statute to engage in a number of financial activities previously impermissible for bank holding companies, including securities underwriting, dealing and market making; sponsoring mutual funds and investment companies; insurance underwriting and agency; and merchant banking activities. The act also permits the FRB and the Treasury Department to authorize additional activities for financial holding companies if they are “financial in nature” or “incidental” to financial activities. A bank holding company may become a financial holding company if each of its subsidiary banks is well capitalized, well managed, and has at least a “satisfactory” Community Reinvestment Act rating. A financial holding company must provide notice to the FRB within 30 days after commencing activities previously determined by statute or by the FRB and the Treasury Department to be permissible. Salisbury is a registered financial holding company.

Under GLBA, all financial institutions are required to establish policies and procedures to restrict the sharing of nonpublic customer data with nonaffiliated parties and to protect customer data from unauthorized access. In addition, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (the “FACT Act”) includes many provisions concerning national credit reporting standards, and permits consumers, including customers of Salisbury, to opt out of information sharing among affiliated companies for marketing purposes. The FACT Act also requires banks and other financial institutions to notify their customers if they report negative information about them to a credit bureau or if they are granted credit on terms less favorable than those generally available. The Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Trade Commission are granted extensive rulemaking authority under the FACT Act, and Salisbury and the Bank are subject to those provisions. The Bank has developed policies and procedures for itself and its affiliate, Salisbury, and believes it is in compliance with all privacy, information sharing, and notification provisions of GLBA and the FACT Act.

Connecticut Banking Laws and Supervision

The Bank is a state-chartered commercial bank under Connecticut law and as such is subject to regulation and examination by the CTDOB. The CTDOB regulates commercial banks, among other financial institutions, for compliance with the laws and regulations of the State of Connecticut, as well as the appropriate rules and regulations of federal agencies. The approval of the CTDOB is required for, among other things, the establishment of branch offices and business combination transactions. The CTDOB conducts periodic examinations of Connecticut-chartered banks. The FDIC also regulates many of the areas regulated by the CTDOB, and federal law may limit some of the authority provided to Connecticut-chartered banks by Connecticut law.


Lending Activities

Connecticut banking laws grant commercial banks broad lending authority. With certain limited exceptions, total secured and unsecured loans made to any one obligor under this statutory authority may not exceed 10% and 15%, respectively, of a bank’s equity capital and reserves for loan and lease losses.

Dividends

The Bank may pay cash dividends out of its net profits. For purposes of this restriction, “net profits” represents the remainder of all earnings from current operations. Further, the total amount of all dividends declared by the Bank in any year may not exceed the sum of its net profits for the year in question combined with its retained net profits from the preceding two years, unless the CTDOB approves the larger dividend. Federal law also prevents the Bank from paying dividends or making other capital distributions that would cause it to become “undercapitalized.” The FDIC may limit the Bank’s ability to pay dividends. No dividends may be paid to the Bank’s Shareholders if such dividends would also reduce Shareholders’ equity below the amount of the liquidation account required by the Connecticut conversion regulations.

Powers

Connecticut law permits Connecticut banks to sell insurance and fixed- and variable-rate annuities if licensed to do so by the Connecticut Insurance CTDOB. With the prior approval of the CTDOB, Connecticut banks are also authorized to engage in a broad range of activities related to the business of banking, or that are financial in nature or that are permitted under the BHCA or the Home Owners’ Loan Act (“HOLA”), both federal statutes, or the regulations promulgated as a result of these statutes. Connecticut banks are also authorized to engage in any activity permitted for a national bank or a federal savings association upon filing notice with the CTDOB, unless the CTDOB disapproves the activity.

Assessments

Connecticut banks are required to pay annual assessments to the CTDOB to fund the CTDOB’s operations. The general assessments are paid pro-rata based upon a bank’s asset size.

Enforcement

Under Connecticut law, the CTDOB has extensive enforcement authority over Connecticut banks and, under certain circumstances, affiliated parties, insiders, and agents. The CTDOB’s enforcement authority includes cease and desist orders, fines, receivership, conservatorship, removal of officers and directors, emergency closures, dissolution and liquidation.

New York and Massachusetts Banking Laws and Supervision

The Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994, or the Interstate Banking Act, permits adequately capitalized bank holding companies to acquire banks in any state subject to specified concentration limits and other conditions. The Interstate Banking Act also authorizes the interstate merger of banks. In addition, among other things, the Interstate Banking Act permits banks to establish new branches on an interstate basis provided that such action is specifically authorized by the law of the host state. The Bank conducts activities and operates branch offices in New York and Massachusetts as well as Connecticut.  The Bank, with respect to offices in New York and Massachusetts, may conduct any activity that is authorized under Connecticut law that is permissible for either New York or Massachusetts state banks or for an out-of-state national bank, at its New York and Massachusetts branch offices, respectively. The New York State Superintendent of Banks may exercise regulatory authority with respect to the Bank’s New York branch offices and the Bank is subject to certain rules related to community reinvestment, consumer protection, fair lending, establishment of intra-state branches and the conduct of banking activities with respect to its branches located in New York State.  The Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks may exercise similar authority and the Bank is subject to similar rules under Massachusetts Banking Law with respect to the Bank’s Massachusetts branch offices.

Federal Regulations

Capital Requirements

Under FDIC regulations, federally insured state-chartered banks, such as the Bank, that are not members of the Federal Reserve System (“state non-member banks”) are required to comply with minimum leverage capital requirements. If the FDIC determines that an institution is not anticipating or experiencing significant growth and is, in general, a strong banking organization, rated composite 1 under the Uniform Financial Institutions Ranking System established by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, the minimum capital leverage requirement is a ratio of Tier 1 capital to total assets of 3%. For all other institutions, the minimum leverage capital ratio is not less than 4%. Tier 1 capital is the sum of common Shareholders’ equity, noncumulative perpetual preferred stock (including any related surplus) and minority investments in certain subsidiaries, less intangible assets (except for certain servicing rights and credit card relationships) and certain other specified items.

The FDIC regulations require state non-member banks to maintain certain levels of regulatory capital in relation to regulatory risk-weighted assets. The ratio of regulatory capital to regulatory risk-weighted assets is referred to as a bank’s “risk-based capital ratio.” Risk-based capital ratios are determined by allocating assets and specified off-balance sheet items (including recourse obligations, direct credit substitutes and residual interests) to four risk-weighted categories ranging from 0% to 100%, with higher levels of capital being required for the categories perceived as representing greater risk.

 
State non-member banks, such as the Bank, must maintain a minimum ratio of total capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 8%, of which at least one-half must be Tier 1 capital. Total capital consists of Tier 1 capital plus Tier 2 or supplementary capital items, which include allowances for loan losses in an amount of up to 1.25% of risk-weighted assets, cumulative preferred stock and certain other capital instruments, and a portion of the net unrealized gain on equity securities. The includable amount of Tier 2 capital cannot exceed the amount of the institution’s Tier 1 capital. Banks that engage in specified levels of trading activities are subject to adjustments in their risk based capital calculation to ensure the maintenance of sufficient capital to support market risk.

The FDIC Improvement Act (the “FDICIA”) required each federal banking agency to revise its risk-based capital standards for insured institutions to ensure that those standards take adequate account of interest-rate risk, concentration of credit risk, and the risk of nontraditional activities, as well as to reflect the actual performance and expected risk of loss on multi-family residential loans. The FDIC, along with the other federal banking agencies, has adopted a regulation providing that the agencies will take into account the exposure of a bank’s capital and economic value to changes in interest rate risk in assessing a bank’s capital adequacy. The FDIC also has authority to establish individual minimum capital requirements in appropriate cases upon determination that an institution’s capital level is, or is likely to become, inadequate in light of the particular circumstances.

As a bank holding company, Salisbury is subject to FRB capital adequacy guidelines for bank holding companies similar to those of the FDIC for state-chartered banks.

Prompt Corrective Regulatory Action

Federal law requires, among other things, that federal bank regulatory authorities take “prompt corrective action” with respect to banks that do not meet minimum capital requirements. For these purposes, the law establishes five capital categories:

 
Well capitalized – at least 5% leverage capital, 6% tier one risk based capital and 10% total risk based capital.

 
Adequately capitalized – at least 4% leverage capital, 4% tier one risk based capital and 8% total risk based capital.

 
Undercapitalized – less than 4% leverage capital, 4% tier one risk based capital and less than 8% total risk based capital. “Undercapitalized” banks must adhere to growth, capital distribution (including dividend) and other limitations and are required to submit a capital restoration plan. A bank’s compliance with such a plan is required to be guaranteed by any company that controls the undercapitalized institution in an amount equal to the lesser of 5% of the institution’s total assets when deemed undercapitalized or the amount necessary to achieve the status of adequately capitalized.

 
Significantly undercapitalized – less than 3% leverage capital, 3% tier one risk based capital and less than 6% total risk-based capital. “Significantly undercapitalized” banks must comply with one or more of a number of additional restrictions, including but not limited to an order by the FDIC to sell sufficient voting stock to become adequately capitalized, requirements to reduce total assets, cease receipt of deposits from correspondent banks or dismiss directors or officers, and restrictions on interest rates paid on deposits, compensation of executive officers and capital distributions by the parent holding company.

 
Critically undercapitalized – less than 2% tangible capital. “Critically undercapitalized” institutions are subject to additional measures including, subject to a narrow exception, the appointment of a receiver or conservator within 270 days after it obtains such status.

As of December 31, 2009, the Bank was “well capitalized”.

Transactions with Affiliates

Under federal law, transactions between depository institutions and their affiliates are governed by Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act (the “FRA”). In a holding company context, at a minimum, the parent holding company of a bank and any companies which are controlled by such parent holding company are affiliates of the bank. Generally, Sections 23A and 23B are intended to protect insured depository institutions from suffering losses arising from transactions with non-insured affiliates, by limiting the extent to which a bank or its subsidiaries may engage in covered transactions with any one affiliate and with all affiliates of the bank in the aggregate, and by requiring that such transactions be on terms that are consistent with safe and sound banking practices.

Further, Section 22(h) of the FRA restricts loans to directors, executive officers, and principal shareholders (“insiders”). Under Section 22(h), loans to insiders and their related interests may not exceed, together with all other outstanding loans to such persons and affiliated entities, the institution’s total capital and surplus. Loans to insiders above specified amounts must receive the prior approval of the board of directors. Further, under Section 22(h), loans to directors, executive officers and principal Shareholders must be made on terms substantially the same as offered in comparable transactions to other persons, except that such insiders may receive preferential loans made under a benefit or compensation program that is widely available to the bank’s employees and does not give preference to the insider over the employees. Section 22(g) of the FRA places additional limitations on loans to executive officers.


Enforcement

The FDIC has extensive enforcement authority over insured banks, including the Bank. This enforcement authority includes, among other things, the ability to assess civil money penalties, issue cease and desist orders and remove directors and officers. In general, these enforcement actions may be initiated in response to violations of laws and regulations and unsafe or unsound practices.

Insurance of Deposit Accounts

The Bank’s deposit accounts are insured by the FDIC up to applicable legal limits (generally, $100,000 per depositor and $250,000 for certain retirement plan accounts) and are subject to deposit insurance assessments. Through the enactment of EESA, the $100,000 limit on insured deposits has been increased to $250,000 through December 31, 2013.

The Bank is participating in the FDIC’s TLGP. As a result, the Bank’s non-interest bearing transaction deposit accounts and interest-bearing transaction accounts paying 50 basis points or less will be fully insured above and beyond the $250,000 limit through June 30, 2010. While this unlimited insurance coverage is in effect, covered deposits in excess of the $250,000 limit are subject to a surcharge of $0.10 per $100 of deposits by the FDIC.

The FDIC has adopted a risk-based assessment system. The FDIC assigns an institution to one of three capital categories based on the institution’s financial condition consisting of (1) well capitalized, (2) adequately capitalized or (3) undercapitalized, and one of three supervisory subcategories within each capital group. The supervisory subgroup to which an institution is assigned is based on a supervisory evaluation provided to the FDIC by the institution’s primary federal regulator and information which the FDIC determines to be relevant to the institution’s financial condition and the risk posed to the deposit insurance funds. An institution’s assessment rate depends on the capital category and supervisory category to which it is assigned.

In November 2006, the FDIC Board of Directors approved a final rule to implement a One-Time Assessment Credit, as required by the Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Act of 2005. For 2007 assessment periods, effective with the June 2007 invoice, credits were used to fully offset the Bank’s assessment. For assessment periods beginning in 2008-2010, credits may not be applied to more than 90% of an institution’s assessment. The Bank’s credit covered 90% of its 2008 FDIC assessment expense and was largely exhausted by December 31, 2008.

In addition, FDIC insured institutions are required to pay assessments to the FDIC at an annual rate of approximately 1.14 basis points of insured deposits to fund interest payments on bonds issued by The Financing Corporations, an agency of the federal government established to recapitalize the predecessor to the Savings Association Insurance Fund. These assessments will continue until the Financing Corporation bonds mature in 2017 through 2019. The assessment rate is adjusted quarterly to reflect changes in the assessment bases of the fund based on quarterly Call Report and Thrift Financial Report submissions.

Recently, the FDIC adopted a restoration plan that would increase the reserve ratio to the 1.15% threshold within seven years. As part of that plan, in December, 2008, the FDIC increased risk-based assessment rates due to deteriorating financial conditions in the banking industry. Changes to the risk-based assessment  system  include  increasing premiums for institutions that rely on excessive amounts of brokered deposits, including CDARS, increasing premiums for excessive use of secured liabilities, including Federal  Home Loan Bank advances, lowering premiums for smaller institutions with very high capital levels, and adding financial ratios and debt issuer ratings to the premium calculations for banks with over $10 billion in assets, while providing a reduction for their unsecured debt. It is generally expected that rates will continue to increase in the near future due to the significant cost of bank failures and the increase in the number of both troubled banks and bank failures. The FDIC, in view of the significant decrease in the deposit insurance funds’ reserves, imposed a special assessment in the second quarter of 2009.  Banks must continue to pay base premium rates on top of any special assessment. Furthermore, banks may be subject to an “emergency” special assessment in addition to other special assessments and regular premium rates. The amount of an emergency special assessment imposed on a bank will be determined by the FDIC if such amount is necessary to provide sufficient assessment income to repay amounts borrowed from the U.S. Department of Treasury; to provide sufficient assessment income to repay obligations issued to and other amounts borrowed from insured depository institutions; or for any other purpose the FDIC may deem necessary.

The FDIC may terminate insurance of deposits, after notice and a hearing, if it finds that the institution is in an unsafe or unsound condition to continue operations, has engaged in unsafe or unsound practices, or has violated any applicable law, regulation, rule, order or condition imposed by the FDIC. The management of the Bank does not know of any practice, condition or violation that might lead to termination of deposit insurance.

Federal Reserve System

The FRB regulations require depository institutions to maintain reserves against their transaction accounts (primarily NOW and regular checking accounts). The FRB regulations generally require that reserves be maintained against aggregate transaction accounts as follows: for that portion of transaction accounts aggregating $44.4 million or less (which may be adjusted by the FRB) the reserve requirement is 3%; and for amounts greater than $44.4 million, 10% (which may be adjusted by the FRB between 8% and 14%), against that portion of total transaction accounts in excess of $44.4 million. The first $10.3 million of otherwise reservable balances (which may be adjusted by the FRB) are exempted from the reserve requirements. The Bank is in compliance with these requirements.


Federal Home Loan Bank System

The Bank is a member of the Boston region of the Federal Home Loan Bank System, which consists of 12 regional Federal Home Loan Banks. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (the “FHLBB”) provides a central credit facility primarily for member institutions. Member institutions are required to acquire and hold shares of capital stock in the FHLBB in an amount at least equal to the sum of 0.35% of the aggregate principal amount of its unpaid residential mortgage loans and similar obligations at the beginning of each year and 4.5% of its advances (borrowings) from the FHLBB. The Bank was in compliance with this requirement. At December 31, 2009, the Bank had FHLBB stock of $6.0 million and FHLBB advances of $76.4 million.

The Federal Home Loan Banks are required to provide funds for certain purposes including the resolution of insolvent thrifts in the late 1980s and to contributing funds for affordable housing programs. These requirements could reduce the ability of the Federal Home Loan Banks to pay dividends to their members and result in the Federal Home Loan Banks imposing a higher rate of interest on advances to their members. Recent legislation has changed the structure of the Federal Home Loan Banks’ funding obligations for insolvent thrifts, revised the capital structure of the Federal Home Loan Banks and implemented entirely voluntary membership for Federal Home Loan Banks.

The regional banks within the Federal Home Loan Bank System have significant held-to-maturity portfolios of private-label mortgage-backed securities with significant unrealized losses. In response to the unprecedented market conditions and potential future losses, to preserve capital they have adopted a revised retained earnings target, declared a moratorium on excess stock repurchases and restricted quarterly dividend payments to no more than 50% of net profit until the retained earnings target is met. As a consequence, in February 2009 the FHLBB announced a suspension of quarterly dividends and the Bank received no FHLBB dividends in 2009. There can be no assurance that the impact of recent market conditions on the financial condition of the Federal Home Loan Banks or future legislation on the Federal Home Loan Banks also will not cause a decrease in the value of the FHLBB stock held by the Bank.

Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

In 2008, the U.S. government enacted the EESA in response to the financial crises affecting the overall banking system and financial markets. EESA included a provision for an increase in the amount of deposits insured by the FDIC to $250,000 until December 2009, and subsequently extended to December 31, 2013, to strengthen confidence in the banking system. Also in 2008, the FDIC implemented the TLGP, which provides unlimited deposit insurance on funds in non-interest-bearing transaction deposit accounts not otherwise covered by the existing deposit insurance limit of $250,000. Participating institutions will be assessed a 10 basis point surcharge on the additional insured deposits. Salisbury is participating in the deposit insurance portion of the TLGP and incurs the surcharge as a cost of participation.

Troubled Asset Relief Program and Capital Purchase Program

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) was established as part of EESA in October 2008. The TARP gave the Treasury authority to deploy up to $700 billion into the financial system with the objective of improving liquidity in the capital markets. On October 24, 2008, the Treasury announced plans to direct $250 billion of the $700 billion authorized into preferred stock investments in banks (the Capital Purchase Program or the “CPP”). The general terms of this preferred stock program for a participant bank that is a public company are as follows: pay 5% dividends on the Treasury’s preferred stock for the first five years and 9% dividends thereafter; cannot increase common dividends for three years while the Treasury is an investor; the Treasury receives warrants entitling the Treasury to buy participating bank’s common stock equal to 15% of the Treasury’s total investment in the participating bank; and participating bank executives must agree to certain compensation restrictions, and restrictions on the amount of executive compensation which is tax deductible and other detailed terms and conditions. In addition to the executive compensation restrictions announced by the Department of Treasury, participants in the CPP are also subject to the more stringent executive compensation limits enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “ARRA”), which was signed into law on February 17, 2009. Among other things, the ARRA more strictly limits the payment of incentive compensation and any severance or golden parachute payments to certain highly compensated employees of CPP participants, expands the scope of employees who are subject to a claw-back of bonus and incentive compensation that is based on results that are later found to be materially inaccurate, adds additional corporate governance requirements, and requires the Department of Treasury to perform a retroactive review of compensation to the five highest compensated employees of all CPP participants.

On March 13, 2009, Salisbury entered into a Purchase Agreement with the Treasury pursuant to which Salisbury issued and sold to the Treasury (i) 8,816 shares of Salisbury’s Fixed Rate Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series A, par value $0.01 per share, having a liquidation preference of $1,000 per share (the Series A Preferred Stock) and (ii) a ten-year warrant to purchase up to 57,671 shares of Salisbury’s common stock, par value $0.10 per share, at an exercise price of $22.93 per share (the “Warrant”), for an aggregate purchase price of $8,816,000 in cash. All of the proceeds from the sale of the Series A Preferred Stock are treated as Tier 1 Capital for regulatory purposes. Additional terms or restrictions to those mentioned above may be imposed by Treasury or Congress at a later date, and these restrictions may apply retroactively, so long as Salisbury remains a participant in the CPP. Such restrictions could have a material adverse affect on Salisbury’s operations, revenue and financial condition, and on its ability to pay dividends.

Other Regulations

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

The stated goals of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“SOX”) are to increase corporate responsibility, to provide for enhanced penalties for accounting and auditing improprieties at publicly traded companies and to protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures pursuant to the securities laws.

 
SOX includes very specific additional disclosure requirements and new corporate governance rules, requires the SEC and securities exchanges to adopt extensive additional disclosure, corporate governance and other related rules, and mandates further studies of certain issues by the SEC and the Comptroller General. SOX represents significant federal involvement in matters traditionally left to state regulatory systems, such as the regulation of the accounting profession, and to state corporate law, such as the relationship between a board of directors and management and between a board of directors and its committees.

SOX addresses, among other matters, audit committees; certification of financial statements and internal controls by the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer; the forfeiture of bonuses or other incentive-based compensation and profits from the sale of an issuer’s securities by directors and senior officers in the twelve-month period following initial publication of any financial statements that later require restatement; a prohibition on insider trading during pension plan black-out periods; disclosure of off-balance sheet transactions; a prohibition on certain loans to directors and officers; expedited filing requirements for Forms 4; disclosure of a code of ethics and filing a Form 8-K for significant changes or waivers of such code; “real time” filing of periodic reports; the formation of a public company accounting oversight board; auditor independence; and various increased criminal penalties for violations of securities laws. The SEC has enacted rules to implement various provisions of SOX.

USA PATRIOT Act

Under Title III of the USA PATRIOT Act, all financial institutions are required to take certain measures to identify their customers, prevent money laundering, monitor customer transactions and report suspicious activity to U.S. law enforcement agencies. Financial institutions also are required to respond to requests for information from federal banking regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies. Information sharing among financial institutions for the above purposes is encouraged by an exemption granted to complying financial institutions from the privacy provisions of GLBA and other privacy laws. Financial institutions that hold correspondent accounts for foreign banks or provide private banking services to foreign individuals are required to take measures to avoid dealing with certain foreign individuals or entities, including foreign banks with profiles that raise money laundering concerns, and are prohibited from dealing with foreign “shell banks” and persons from jurisdictions of particular concern. The primary federal banking regulators and the Secretary of the Treasury have adopted regulations to implement several of these provisions. All financial institutions also are required to establish internal anti-money laundering programs. The effectiveness of a financial institution in combating money laundering activities is a factor to be considered in any application submitted by the financial institution under the Bank Merger Act or the BHCA. Salisbury has in place a Bank Secrecy Act and USA PATRIOT Act compliance program, and engages in very few transactions of any kind with foreign financial institutions or foreign persons.

Community Reinvestment Act and Fair Lending Laws

Salisbury has a responsibility under the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (“CRA”) to help meet the credit needs of our communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The CRA does not establish specific lending requirements or programs for financial institutions nor does it limit an institution’s discretion to develop the types of products and services that it believes are best suited to its particular community, consistent with the CRA. In connection with its examination, the FDIC assesses the Bank’s record of compliance with the CRA. In addition, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act prohibit discrimination in lending practices on the basis of characteristics specified in those statutes. The Bank’s failure to comply with the provisions of the CRA could, at a minimum, result in regulatory restrictions on our activities. The Bank’s failure to comply with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act could result in enforcement actions against the Bank by the FDIC as well as other federal regulatory agencies and the Department of Justice. The Bank’s latest FDIC CRA rating was “satisfactory”.

Impact of Inflation and Changing Prices

The Consolidated Financial Statements and their Notes presented within this document have been prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States of America (“GAAP”), which require the measurement of financial position and operating results in terms of historical dollar amounts without considering changes in the relative purchasing power of money over time due to inflation. The impact of inflation is reflected in the increased cost of Salisbury’s operations. Unlike the assets and liabilities of industrial companies, nearly all of the assets and liabilities of Salisbury are monetary in nature. As a result, interest rates have a greater impact on Salisbury’s performance than do the effects of general levels of inflation. Interest rates do not necessarily move in the same direction or to the same extent as the prices of goods and services.

Availability of Securities and Exchange Commission Filings

Salisbury makes available free of charge on its website (www.salisburybank.com) a link to its annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as soon as practicable after such reports are electronically filed with or furnish it to the SEC. Such reports filed with the SEC are also available on its website (www.sec.gov). The public may also read and copy any materials filed with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room, 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. Information about the Public Reference Room can be obtained by calling 1-800-SEC-0330. Information on Salisbury’s website is not incorporated by reference into this report. Investors are encouraged to access these reports and the other information about Salisbury’s business and operations on its website. Copies of these filings may also be obtained from Salisbury free of charge upon request.

 
Guide 3 Statistical Disclosure by Bank Holding Companies

The following information required by Securities Act Guide 3 “Statistical Disclosure by Bank Holding Companies” is located on the pages noted below.

   
 
 
Page
         
I.
 
Distribution of Assets, Liabilities and Shareholders’ Equity; Interest Rates and Interest Differentials
 
 21
II.
 
Investment Portfolio
 
26, 44-46
III.
 
Loan Portfolio
 
26-28, 47
IV.
 
Summary of Loan Loss Experience
 
22-23, 47
V.
 
Deposits
 
28, 49-50
VI.
 
Return on Equity and Assets
 
 18
VII.
 
Short-Term Borrowings
 
 28, 50

RISK FACTORS

Salisbury is the registered bank holding company for the Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary.  Salisbury's activity is currently limited to the holding of the Bank's outstanding capital stock and the Bank is Salisbury's primary investment.

An investment in Salisbury common stock entails certain risks.  Salisbury considers the most significant factors affecting risk in Salisbury common stock as those that are set forth below.  These are not the only risks of an investment in Salisbury common stock, and none of the factors set forth below relates to the personal circumstances of individual investors.  Investors should read this entire Form 10-K, as well as other documents and exhibits that are incorporated by reference in the 10-K and that have been filed with the SEC, in order to better understand these risks and to evaluate investment in Salisbury common stock.

Changes in interest rates and spreads could have a negative impact on earnings.

Salisbury’s earnings and financial condition are dependent to a large degree upon net interest income, which is the difference between interest earned from loans and investments and interest paid on deposits and borrowings. The narrowing of interest rate spreads, meaning the difference between interest rates earned on loans and investments and the interest rates paid on deposits and borrowings, could adversely affect Salisbury’s earnings and financial condition. Salisbury cannot predict with certainty or control changes in interest rates. Regional and local economic conditions and the policies of regulatory authorities, including monetary policies of the FRB, affect interest income and interest expense. Salisbury has ongoing policies and procedures designed to manage the risks associated with changes in market interest rates.

However, changes in interest rates still may have an adverse effect on Salisbury’s profitability. For example, high interest rates could also affect the volume of loans that Salisbury originates, because higher rates could cause customers to apply for fewer mortgages, or cause depositors to shift funds from accounts that have a comparatively lower rate, to accounts with a higher rate or experience customer attrition due to competitor pricing. If the cost of interest-bearing deposits increases at a rate greater than the yields on interest-earning assets increase, net interest income will be negatively affected. Changes in the asset and liability mix may also affect net interest income. Similarly, lower interest rates cause higher yielding assets to prepay and floating or adjustable rate assets to reset to lower rates. If Salisbury is not able to reduce its funding costs sufficiently, due to either competitive factors or the maturity schedule of existing liabilities, then Salisbury’s net interest margin will decline.

Weakness in the markets for residential or commercial real estate, including the secondary residential mortgage loan markets, could reduce Salisbury’s net income and profitability.

Declines in home prices, increases in delinquency and default rates, and constrained secondary credit markets affect the mortgage industry generally. Salisbury’s financial results may be adversely affected by changes in real estate values. Decreases in real estate values could adversely affect the value of property used as collateral for loans and investments. If poor economic conditions result in decreased demand for real estate loans, Salisbury’s net income and profits may decrease.

Weakness in the secondary market for residential lending could have an adverse impact upon Salisbury’s profitability. The effects of ongoing mortgage market challenges, combined with the ongoing correction in residential real estate market prices and reduced levels of home sales, could result in further price reductions in single family home values, adversely affecting the value of collateral securing mortgage loans held, mortgage loan originations and gains on sale of mortgage loans. Continued declines in real estate values and home sales volumes, and financial stress on borrowers as a result of job losses, or other factors, could have further adverse effects on borrowers that result in higher delinquencies and greater charge-offs in future periods beyond that which is provided for in Salisbury’s allowance for loan losses, which would adversely affect Salisbury’s financial condition or results of operations.


 
 
Salisbury’s allowance for loan losses may be insufficient.
 
Salisbury’s business is subject to periodic fluctuations based on national and local economic conditions. These fluctuations are not predictable, cannot be controlled and may have a material adverse impact on Salisbury’s operations and financial condition. For example, recent declines in housing activity including declines in building permits, housing starts and home prices may make it more difficult for Salisbury’s borrowers to sell their homes or refinance their debt. Sales may also slow, which could strain the resources of real estate developers and builders. The current economic uncertainty has affected employment levels and could impact the ability of Salisbury’s borrowers to service their debt. Bank regulatory agencies also periodically review Salisbury’s allowance for loan losses and may require an increase in the provision for credit losses or the recognition of further loan charge-offs, based on judgments different than those of management. In addition, if charge-offs in future periods exceed the allowance for loan losses Salisbury will need additional provisions to increase the allowance for loan losses. Any increases in the allowance for loan losses will result in a decrease in net income and, possibly, capital, and may have a material adverse effect on Salisbury’s financial condition and results of operations. Salisbury may suffer higher loan losses as a result of these factors and the resulting impact on its borrowers.

Credit market conditions may impact Salisbury’s investments.

Significant credit market anomalies may impact the valuation and liquidity of Salisbury’s investment securities. The problems of numerous financial institutions have reduced market liquidity, increased normal bid-asked spreads and increased the uncertainty of market participants. Such illiquidity could reduce the market value of Salisbury’s investments, even those with no apparent credit exposure. The valuation of Salisbury’s investments requires judgment and as market conditions change investment values may also change.

If all or a significant portion of the unrealized losses in Salisbury’s portfolio of investment securities were determined to be other-than-temporarily impaired, Salisbury would recognize a material charge to its earnings and its capital ratios would be adversely impacted.

As of December 31, 2009, Salisbury had $3.8 million of after-tax gross unrealized losses associated with its portfolio of securities available-for-sale, compared with $7.0 million at December 31, 2008. The fair value of such securities is supplied by third-party sources.

Management must assess whether unrealized losses are other-than-temporary and relies on data supplied by third-party sources to do so. The determination of whether a decline in fair value is other-than-temporary considers numerous factors, many of which involve significant judgment.

To the extent that any portion of the unrealized losses in Salisbury’s portfolio of investment securities is determined to be other-than-temporarily impaired, Salisbury will recognize a charge to its earnings in the quarter during which such determination is made and its earnings and capital ratios will be adversely impacted. In 2009, Salisbury recognized $744,000 in after-tax charges to earnings as a result of other-than-temporary impairment determinations.

If the goodwill that Salisbury has recorded in connection with its acquisitions becomes impaired, it could have a negative impact on Salisbury’s profitability.

Applicable accounting standards require that the purchase method of accounting be used for all business combinations. Under purchase accounting, if the purchase price of an acquired company exceeds the fair value of the acquired company’s net assets, the excess is carried on the acquirer’s balance sheet as goodwill. At December 31, 2009, Salisbury had $9.8 million of goodwill on its balance sheet. Salisbury must evaluate goodwill for impairment at least annually. Write-downs of the amount of any impairment, if necessary, are to be charged to the results of operations in the period in which the impairment occurs. There can be no assurance that future evaluations of goodwill will not result in findings of impairment and related write-downs, which may have a material adverse effect on Salisbury’s financial condition and results of operations.

Salisbury’s participation in the U.S. Treasury’s Capital Purchase Program restricts Salisbury’s ability to increase dividends on its common stock.

In March 2009, the U.S. Treasury invested $8.8 million in preferred stock in Salisbury under the CPP. The U.S. Treasury was issued warrants entitling Treasury to buy Salisbury common stock equal to 15% of Treasury’s preferred stock investment. The terms of CPP require Salisbury to pay 5% dividends on the Treasury’s preferred stock for the first five years, and then 9% dividends thereafter (not tax deductible) and restrict Salisbury’s ability to increase its dividends on its common stock, redeem the preferred stock, undertake stock repurchase programs and pay executive compensation so long as Salisbury remains a participant in the CPP. The Treasury or Congress may impose additional restrictions in the future which may apply retroactively. These restrictions have a material effect on Salisbury’s operations, revenue and financial condition and its ability to pay dividends.

Salisbury may not pay dividends if it is unable to receive dividends from the Bank.

Cash dividends from the Bank and Salisbury’s liquid assets are the principal sources of funds for paying cash dividends on Salisbury’s common stock and preferred stock. Unless Salisbury receives dividends from the Bank or chooses to use its liquid assets, it may not be able to pay dividends. The Bank’s ability to pay dividends to Salisbury is subject to its ability to earn net income and to meet certain regulatory requirements.

 

 
 
Strong competition within Salisbury’s market areas may limit growth and profitability.
  
Competition in the banking and financial services industry is intense. Salisbury competes with commercial banks, savings institutions, mortgage brokerage firms, credit unions, finance companies, mutual funds, insurance companies, and brokerage and investment banking firms operating locally and elsewhere. As Salisbury grows, it may expand into contiguous market areas where it may not be as well known as other institutions that have been operating in those areas for some time. In addition, larger banking institutions may become increasingly active in its market areas and may have substantially greater resources and lending limits than it has and may offer certain services that it does not or cannot efficiently provide. Salisbury’s profitability depends upon its continued ability to successfully compete in its market areas. The greater resources and deposit and loan products offered by some competitors may limit its ability to grow profitably.

Salisbury is subject to extensive government regulation and supervision.

Salisbury and the Bank are subject to extensive federal and state regulation and supervision. Banking regulations are primarily intended to protect depositors’ funds, federal deposit insurance funds and the banking system as a whole, not Shareholders. These regulations affect Salisbury’s lending practices, capital structure, investment practices, dividend policy and growth, among other things. Congress and federal regulatory agencies continually review banking laws, regulations and policies for possible changes. Changes to statutes, regulations or regulatory policies, including changes in interpretation or implementation of statutes, regulations or policies, could affect Salisbury in substantial and unpredictable ways. Such changes could subject Salisbury to additional costs, limit the types of financial services and products it may offer and/or increase the ability of non-banks to offer competing financial services and products, among other things. Failure to comply with laws, regulations or policies could result in sanctions by regulatory agencies, civil money penalties and/or reputation damage, which could have a material adverse effect on Salisbury’s business, financial condition and results of operations. While Salisbury has policies and procedures designed to prevent any such violations, there can be no assurance that such violations will not occur. See the section captioned “Supervision and Regulation” in Item 1 of this report for further information.

Salisbury’s stock price can be volatile.

Salisbury’s stock price can fluctuate widely in response to a variety of factors including:

 
Actual or anticipated variations in quarterly operating results
 
Recommendations by securities analysts
 
New technology used, or services offered, by competitors
 
Significant acquisitions or business combinations, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments by or involving Salisbury or Salisbury’s competitors
 
Failure to integrate acquisitions or realize anticipated benefits from acquisitions
 
Operating and stock price performance of other companies that investors deem comparable to Salisbury
 
News reports relating to trends, concerns and other issues in the financial services industry
 
Changes in government regulations
 
Geopolitical conditions such as acts or threats of terrorism or military conflicts
 
Extended recessionary environment

General market fluctuations, industry factors and general economic and political conditions and events, such as economic slowdowns or recessions, interest rate changes, credit loss trends or currency fluctuations could also cause Salisbury’s stock price to decrease regardless of Salisbury’s operating results.

Salisbury may not be able to attract and retain skilled personnel.

Salisbury’s success depends, in large part, on its ability to attract and retain key people. Competition for people with specialized knowledge and skills can be intense and Salisbury may not be able to hire people or to retain them. The unexpected loss of services of one or more of Salisbury’s key personnel could have a material adverse impact on the business because of their skills, knowledge of the market, years of industry experience and the difficulty of promptly finding qualified replacement personnel.

Salisbury continually encounters technological change.

The financial services industry is continually undergoing rapid technological change with frequent introductions of new technology-driven products and services. The effective use of technology can increase efficiency and enable financial institutions to better serve customers and to reduce costs. However, some new technologies needed to compete effectively result in incremental operating costs. Salisbury’s future success depends, in part, upon its ability to address the needs of its customers by using technology to provide products and services that will satisfy customer demands, as well as to create additional efficiencies in operations. Many of Salisbury’s competitors have substantially greater resources to invest in technological improvements. Salisbury may not be able to effectively implement new technology-driven products and services or be successful in marketing these products and services to its customers. Failure to successfully keep pace with technological change affecting the financial services industry could have a material adverse impact on Salisbury’s business and, in turn, its financial condition and results of operations.

Salisbury’s controls and procedures may fail or be circumvented.

Management regularly reviews and updates Salisbury’s internal controls, disclosure controls and procedures, and corporate governance policies and procedures. Any system of controls, however well designed and operated, is based in part on certain assumptions and can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurances that the objectives of the system are met. Any failure or circumvention of the controls and procedures or failure to comply with regulations related to controls and procedures could have a material adverse effect on Salisbury’s business, results of operations and financial condition.

 
Customer information may be obtained and used fraudulently.

Risk of theft of customer information resulting from security breaches by third parties exposes Salisbury to reputation risk and potential monetary loss. Salisbury has exposure to fraudulent use of our customer’s personal information resulting from its general business operations through loss or theft of the information and through customer use of financial instruments, such as debit cards.

Changes in accounting standards can materially impact Salisbury’s financial statements.

Salisbury’s accounting policies and methods are fundamental to how Salisbury records and reports its financial condition and results of operations. From time to time, the Financial Accounting Standards Board or regulatory authorities change the financial accounting and reporting standards that govern the preparation of Salisbury’s financial statements. These changes can be hard to predict and can materially impact how it records and reports its financial condition and results of operations. In some cases, it could be required to apply a new or revised standard retroactively, resulting in Salisbury restating prior period financial statements.

Changes and interpretations of tax laws and regulations may adversely impact Salisbury’s financial statements.

Local, state or federal tax authorities may interpret tax laws and regulations differently than Salisbury and challenge tax positions that Salisbury has taken on its tax returns. This may result in the disallowance of deductions or differences in the timing of deductions and result in the payment of additional taxes, interest or penalties that could materially affect Salisbury’s performance.

Unprecedented disruption and significantly increased risk in the financial markets may impact Salisbury.

The banking industry has experienced unprecedented turmoil over the past two years as some of the world’s major financial institutions collapsed, were seized or were forced into mergers as the credit markets tightened and the economy headed into a recession and has eroded confidence in the world’s financial system. Measures taken by the Government in an effort to stabilize the economy may have unintended consequences and there can be no assurance that Salisbury will not be impacted by current market uncertainty in a way it cannot currently predict or mitigate.

UNRESOLVED SEC STAFF COMMENTS

None.

PROPERTIES

Salisbury is not the owner or lessee of any properties. The properties described below are properties owned or leased by the Bank.

The Bank conducts its business at its main office, located at 5 Bissell Street, Lakeville, Connecticut, and through 7 full service branch offices located in Canaan, Salisbury and Sharon, Connecticut, Sheffield and South Egremont, Massachusetts, and Dover Plains and Millerton, New York. The Bank’s trust and wealth advisory services division is located in a separate building adjacent to the main office of the Bank in Lakeville, Connecticut. The Bank owns its main office and four of its branch offices and leases three branch offices.

For additional information, see Note 6, “Premises and Equipment,” and Note 18, “Commitments and Contingent Liabilities” To the Consolidated Financial Statements.

The following table includes all property owned or leased by the Bank, but does not include Other Real Estate Owned.


Offices
Location
Owned/Leased
Lease expiration
Main Office
5 Bissell Street, Lakeville, CT
Owned
-
Trust and Wealth Advisory Services Division
19 Bissell Street, Lakeville, CT
Owned
-
Salisbury Office
18 Main Street, Salisbury, CT
Owned
-
Sharon Office
29 Low Road, Sharon, CT
Owned
-
Canaan Operations
94 Main Street, Canaan, CT
Owned
-
Canaan Office
100 Main Street, Canaan, CT
Owned
-
Millerton Office
87 Main Street, Millerton, NY
Owned
-
South Egremont Office
51 Main Street, South Egremont, MA
Leased
9/10/12
Sheffield Office
73 Main Street, Sheffield, MA
Leased
Expired
Dover Plains Office
5 Dover Village Plaza, Dover Plains, NY
Leased
3/26/17
 
LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

The Bank is involved in various claims and legal proceedings arising out of the ordinary course of business.


The Bank is a party defendant, both in its capacity as Salisbury Bank and Trust Company and in its former capacity as the Trustee of the Erling C. Christophersen Revocable Trust, in litigation instituted on June 16, 2008 and currently pending in the Connecticut Superior Court within the Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk, CT.  The other parties to the litigation are the Plaintiff, John R. Christophersen of Norwalk, Connecticut and Defendants, Erling C. Christophersen, of Westport, Connecticut; Bonnie Christophersen of Westport, Connecticut; Elena Dreiske of Wanetka, Illinois; and People’s United Bank with its principal place of business in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The litigation involves the ownership of certain real property located in Westport, Connecticut, which was conveyed by the Defendant, Erling Christophersen, to the Erling Christophersen Trust, of which the Bank was a co-Trustee.  Subsequent to this conveyance, the Bank loaned $3,386,609 to the Erling Christophersen Trust that was secured by an open-end commercial mortgage in favor of the Bank on the Westport real estate referenced above, which was appraised at a value significantly greater than the loan amount.

The claim of the Plaintiff John R. Christophersen is that he had an interest in the real property of which he was wrongfully divested.  He has brought this action seeking restoration of his allegedly divested interest as well as money damages.

In addition to his efforts to restore his alleged interest in the real property, the Plaintiff has made two additional claims directed at the Bank.  He has alleged that by financing the property, and holding it as a co-Trustee, the Bank participated in “stealing” the value of the Plaintiff’s interest in the property.  He has also alleged an implied trust against the Bank alleging that it acquired title to the property adverse to the Plaintiff’s interest and in contravention of the Plaintiffs entitlements, and therefore holds the property in trust for Plaintiff.  The Bank, at the time of the financing referenced above, acquired a lender’s title insurance policy from the Chicago Title & Insurance Company.  The Bank has resigned as a trustee and is actively defending the case.  The validity of the conveyance to Erling Christophersen is also the subject of a probate proceeding in New York State.  The Connecticut proceeding has been stayed until the New York Court litigation is resolved.  Prior to the resolution, the liquidity of the real estate collateral which secures the loan is diminished.

There are no other material pending legal proceedings, other than ordinary routine litigation incident to the registrant’s business, to which Salisbury is a party or of which any of its property is subject.

RESERVED

PART II

MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED SHAREHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Market Information

For the information required by this item see “Note 23 - Selected Quarterly Consolidated Financial Data (Unaudited)” of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

Holders

There were approximately 1,506 holders of record of the common stock of Salisbury as of March 3, 2010.  This number includes brokerage firms and other financial institutions that hold stock in their name, but which is actually beneficially owned by third parties.

Equity Compensation Plan Information

For the information required by this item see “Note 14 – Directors Stock Retainer Plan” of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

None.

Dividends

For a discussion of Salisbury's dividend policy and restrictions on dividends see "Management Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" under the caption "Dividends”.

Item 6.
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

The following tables contain certain information concerning the financial position and results of operations of Salisbury at the dates and for the periods indicated. This information should be read in conjunction with the Consolidated Financial Statements and related notes.


SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

(in thousands, except ratios and per share amounts)

   
At or for the years ended December 31,
 
   
2009
   
2008
   
2007
   
2006
   
2005
 
Statement of Income
                             
Interest and dividend income
  $ 25,893     $ 26,557     $ 26,152     $ 23,730     $ 20,816  
Interest expense
    9,032       10,825       12,432       10,459       7,352  
Net interest and dividend income
    16,861       15,732       13,720       13,271       13,464  
Provision (credit) for loan losses
    985       1,279       -       (87 )     210  
Gains on securities, net
    473       600       295       517       1,210  
Other-than-temporary impairment losses, net
    (1,128 )     (2,955 )     -       -       -  
Trust and wealth advisory
    1,978       2,264       2,050       1,981       1,571  
Service charges and fees
    1,818       1,930       1,606       1,478       1,354  
Gains on sales of mortgage loans, net
    743       344       387       524       573  
Mortgage servicing, net
    80       (124 )     (50 )     (103 )     (35 )
Other
    468       182       177       186       192  
Non-interest income
    4,432       2,241       4,465       4,583       4,865  
Non-interest expense
    17,890       16,009       13,515       12,245       12,444  
Income before income taxes
    2,418       685       4,670       5,696       5,675  
Income tax (benefit) provision
    (49 )     (421 )     870       1,442       1,114  
Net income
    2,467       1,106       3,800       4,254       4,561  
Net income available to common shareholders
    2,102       1,106       3,800       4,254       4,561  
Financial Condition
                                       
Total assets
  $ 562,347     $ 495,754     $ 461,960     $ 450,340     $ 402,922  
Loans receivable, net
    327,257       297,367       268,191       252,464       215,989  
Allowance for loan losses
    3,473       2,724       2,475       2,474       2,626  
Securities
    151,125       155,916       152,624       161,232       151,168  
Deposits
    418,203       344,925       317,741       318,586       287,271  
Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston advances
    76,364       87,914       95,011       87,093       71,016  
Repurchase agreements
    11,415       11,203       -       -       -  
Shareholders' equity
    52,355       38,939       45,564       44,349       41,442  
Non-performing assets
    7,720       5,380       1,824       964       773  
Per Common Share Data
                                       
Earnings, diluted and basic
  $ 1.25     $ 0.66     $ 2.26     $ 2.53     $ 2.71  
Cash dividends paid
    1.12       1.12       1.08       1.04       1.00  
Book value
    25.81       23.10       27.04       26.33       24.61  
Statistical Data
                                       
Net interest margin (fully tax equivalent)
    3.51 %     3.74 %     3.54 %     3.67 %     3.89 %
Efficiency ratio (fully tax equivalent)
    74.38       71.56       68.74       69.16       82.01  
Effective tax rate
    (2.03 )     (61.45 )     18.63       25.32       19.63  
Return on average assets
    0.39       0.23       0.85       1.02       1.12  
Return on average shareholders' equity
    5.18       2.59       8.71       9.83       10.81  
Dividend payout ratio
    89.60       169.70       47.79       41.11       36.90  
Allowance for loan losses to total loans
    1.05       0.91       0.92       0.97       1.20  
Non-performing assets to total assets
    1.37       1.09       0.39       0.21       0.19  
Tier 1 leverage capital
    8.39       7.74       8.24       8.43       8.27  
Total risk-based capital
    12.86       11.59       15.00       15.28       15.76  
Weighted average equivalent shares outstanding, diluted
    1,686       1,686       1,685       1,684       1,683  
Common shares outstanding at end of period
    1,687       1,686       1,685       1,684       1,683  


MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

BUSINESS

Salisbury Bancorp, Inc. ("Salisbury"), a Connecticut corporation, formed in 1998, is the bank holding company for Salisbury Bank and Trust Company (the "Bank"), a Connecticut-chartered and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the "FDIC") insured commercial bank headquartered in Lakeville, Connecticut.  Salisbury's principal business consists of the business of the Bank.  The Bank, formed in 1848, is engaged in customary banking activities, including general deposit taking and lending activities to both retail and commercial markets, and trust and wealth advisory services. The Bank conducts its banking business from eight full-service offices in the towns of Canaan, Lakeville, Salisbury and Sharon, Connecticut, South Egremont and Sheffield, Massachusetts, and, Dover Plains and Millerton, New York, and its trust and wealth advisory services from offices in Lakeville, Connecticut.

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

Salisbury’s consolidated financial statements follow generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) in the United States of America as applied to the banking industry in which it operates. Application of these principles requires management to make estimates, assumptions and judgments that affect the amounts reported in the financial statements. These estimates, assumptions and judgments are based on information available as of the date of the financial statements; accordingly, as this information changes, the financial statements could reflect different estimates, assumptions and judgments and as such have a greater possibility of producing results that could be materially different than originally reported. Estimates, assumptions and judgments are necessary when assets and liabilities are required to be recorded at fair value, when a decline in the value of an asset not carried at fair value warrants an impairment write-down or valuation reserve to be established, or when an asset or liability needs to be recorded contingent upon a future event.

Salisbury’s significant accounting policies are presented in Note 1 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements and, along with this Management’s Discussion and Analysis, provide information on how significant assets are valued in the financial statements and how those values are determined. Management believes that the following accounting estimates are the most critical to aid in fully understanding and evaluating Salisbury’s reported financial results, and they require management’s most difficult, subjective or complex judgments, resulting from the need to make estimates about the effect of matters that are inherently uncertain.

The allowance for loan losses represents management’s estimate of credit losses inherent in the loan portfolio. Determining the amount of the allowance for loan losses is considered a critical accounting estimate because it requires significant judgment and the use of estimates related to the amount and timing of expected future cash flows on impaired loans, estimated losses on pools of homogeneous loans based on historical loss experience, and consideration of current economic trends and conditions, all of which may be susceptible to significant change. The loan portfolio also represents the largest asset type on the balance sheet. Note 1 describes the methodology used to determine the allowance for loan losses. A discussion of the factors driving changes in the amount of the allowance for loan losses is included in the “Provision and Allowance for Loan Losses” section of Management’s Discussion and Analysis.

Management evaluates goodwill and identifiable intangible assets for impairment annually using valuation techniques that involve estimates for discount rates, projected future cash flows and time period calculations, all of which are susceptible to change based on changes in economic conditions and other factors.  Future events or changes in the estimates, which are used to determine the carrying value of goodwill and identifiable intangible assets or which otherwise adversely affects their value or estimated lives could have a material adverse impact on the results of operations.

Management evaluates securities for other-than-temporary impairment giving consideration to the extent to which the fair value has been less than cost, estimates of future cash flows, delinquencies and default severity, and the intent and ability of Salisbury to retain its investment in the issuer for a period of time sufficient to allow for any anticipated recovery in fair value. The consideration of the above factors is subjective and involves estimates and assumptions about matters that are inherently uncertain. Should actual factors and conditions differ materially from those used by management, the actual realization of gains or losses on investment securities could differ materially from the amounts recorded in the financial statements.

The determination of the obligation and expense for pension and other postretirement benefits is dependent on certain assumptions used in calculating such amounts. Key assumptions used in the actuarial valuations include the discount rate, expected long-term rate of return on plan assets and rates of increase in compensation and health care costs. Actual results could differ from the assumptions and market driven rates may fluctuate. Significant differences in actual experience or significant changes in the assumptions may materially affect the future pension and other postretirement obligations and expense.

OVERVIEW

Net income available to common shareholders for the year ended December 31, 2009 was $2,102,000, or $1.25 per common share, compared with $1,106,000, or $.66 per common share, for the year ended December 31, 2008. Return on average common shareholders’ equity was 5.18% for 2009 compared with 2.59% for 2008. Net interest and dividend income increased $1,129,000 due primarily to a $60.5 million increase in average earning assets, made possible by significant deposit growth, which more than offset a 23 basis point decrease in the net interest margin to 3.51% from 3.74%. The decline in the net interest margin was mostly due to carrying significantly larger balances of low yielding short term investments. The provision for loan losses for 2009 was $985,000 compared with $1,279,000 for 2008. Non-interest income increased $2,191,000 for 2009, of which $1,700,000 resulted from lower securities losses in 2009 versus 2008. Non-interest expense increased $1,881,000 due primarily to higher compensation expenses, data processing, professional fees, FDIC insurance, and Other Real Estate Owned (“OREO”) expenses, offset in part by the inclusion in 2008 of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston advance prepayment fee, lower credit card processing fees, and lower marketing expense.

 
During 2009, Salisbury’s assets grew $67 million to $562 million at December 31, 2009.  Net loans receivable grew $30 million, or 10.05%, to $327 million. Non-performing assets increased $2.3 million to $7.7 million at December 31, 2009. A single loan relationship accounts for $3.0 million of non-performing assets. Reserve coverage, as measured by the ratio of the allowance for loan losses to gross loans increased slightly to 1.05% at December 31, 2009 compared with 0.91% at December 31, 2008.

Deposits grew $73 million to $418 million at December 31, 2009 from $345 million at December 31, 2008. This significant growth in deposits stems from customer preference for the safety of insured deposits during a year of heightened uncertainty in the financial markets and a concerted effort by Salisbury to expand deposit relationships with customers, and the assumption of $11 million in deposits with the purchase of Webster Bank’s Canaan branch in December 2009.

In March 2009, Salisbury issued $8.8 million of preferred stock pursuant to the U.S. Treasury’s TARP Capital Purchase Program.

At December 31, 2009, book value per common share was $25.81 and tier 1 leverage and total risk-based capital ratios were 8.39% and 12.86%, respectively. Salisbury and the Bank are categorized as "well capitalized".

The following discussion and analysis of Salisbury's consolidated results of operations should be read in conjunction with the Consolidated Financial Statements and footnotes.

RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2009 and 2008

Net Interest and Dividend Income

Net interest and dividend income  (presented on a tax-equivalent basis) increased $1,077,000 in 2009 over 2008 due primarily to a $60.5 million, or 13.3%,  increase in average earning assets, made possible by significant deposit growth, which more than offset a 23 basis point decrease in the net interest margin to 3.51% from 3.74%. The decrease in the net interest margin was mostly due to the dilutive effect of carrying $33.3 million in low yielding short term funds reflecting a more conservative liquidity management strategy during a year of heightened risk in the financial markets. The net interest margin was also affected by changes in the mix of earning assets and funding liabilities, asset and liability growth, changes in market interest rates, the suspension of dividends on Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (“FHLBB”) stock, and the impact of asset and liability re-pricing. The following table sets forth the components of Salisbury's net interest income and yields on average interest-earning assets and interest-bearing funds. Income and yields on tax-exempt securities are presented on a fully taxable equivalent basis.


Years ended December 31,
 
Average Balance
   
Income / Expense
   
Average Yield / Rate
 
(dollars in thousands)
 
2009
   
2008
   
2007
   
2009
   
2008
   
2007
   
2009
   
2008
   
2007
 
Loans (a)
  $ 308,027     $ 287,923     $ 258,714     $ 18,260     $ 18,449     $ 17,969       5.93 %     6.41 %     6.95 %
Securities (c)(d)
    166,608       154,253       155,189       8,673       8,900       8,871       5.21       5.77       5.72  
FHLBB stock
    5,650       5,251       5,052       -       275       441       -       5.25       8.73  
Short term funds (b)
    33,346       5,745       2,718       114       141       69       0.34       2.45       2.54  
Total earning assets
    513,631       453,172       421,673       27,047       27,764       27,350       5.27       6.13       6.49  
Other assets
    25,259       23,680       26,685                                                  
Total assets
  $ 538,890     $ 476,852     $ 448,558                                                  
Interest-bearing demand deposits
  $ 34,060     $ 24,517     $ 24,822       266       53       63       0.78       0.22       0.25  
Money market accounts
    65,970       63,914       55,358       565       1,217       1,790       0.86       1.90       3.23  
Savings and other
    80,517       63,185       47,063       694       926       814       0.86       1.47       1.73  
Certificates of deposit
    148,954       116,959       119,053       4,265       4,437       5,533       2.86       3.79       4.65  
Total interest-bearing deposits
    329,501       268,575       246,296       5,790       6,633       8,200       1.76       2.47       3.33  
Repurchase agreements
    11,775       4,948       -       131       106       -       1.11       2.14       -  
FHLBB advances
    78,063       89,750       87,649       3,111       4,086       4,232       3.99       4.55       4.83  
Total interest-bearing deposits
    419,339       363,273       333,945       9,032       10,825       12,432       2.15       2.98       3.72  
Demand deposits
    66,202       67,680       66,304                                                  
Other liabilities
    5,378       3,198       4,672                                                  
Shareholders’ equity
    47,971       42,701       43,637                                                  
Total liabilities & shareholders’ equity
  $ 538,890     $ 476,852     $ 448,558                                                  
Net interest income
                          $ 18,015     $ 16,940     $ 14,918                          
Spread on interest-bearing funds
                                                    3.12       3.15       2.77  
Net interest margin (e)
                                                    3.51       3.74       3.54  

(a)
Includes non-accrual loans.
(b)
Includes interest-bearing deposits in other banks and federal funds sold.
(c)
Average balances of securities are based on historical cost.
(d)
Includes tax exempt income of $1,154,000, $1,208,000 and $1,198,000, respectively for 2009, 2008 and 2007 on tax-exempt securities whose income and yields are calculated on a tax-equivalent basis.
(e)
Net interest income divided by average interest-earning assets.

The following table sets forth the changes in net interest income (presented on a tax-equivalent basis) due to volume and rate.

Years ended December 31, (in thousands)
 
2009 versus 2008
   
2008 versus 2007
 
Change in interest due to
 
Volume
   
Rate
   
Net
   
Volume
   
Rate
   
Net
 
Interest-earning assets
                                   
Loans
  $ 1,240     $ (1,429 )   $ (189 )   $ 1,950     $ (1,470 )   $ 480  
Securities
    677       (904 )     (227 )     (54 )     83       29  
FHLBB stock
    -       (275 )     (275 )     14       (180 )     (166 )
Short term funds
    384       (411 )     (27 )     76       (4 )     72  
Total
    2,301       (3,019 )     (718 )     1,986       (1,571 )     415  
Interest-bearing liabilities
                                               
Deposits
    1,344       (2,187 )     (843 )     388       (1,955 )     (1,567 )
Repurchase agreements
    111       (86 )     25       106       -       106  
FHLBB advances
    (500 )     (475 )     (975 )     99       (245 )     (146 )
Total
    955       (2,748 )     (1,793 )     593       (2,200 )     (1,607 )
Net change in net interest income
  $ 1,346     $ (271 )   $ 1,075     $ 1,393     $ 629     $ 2,022  

Net interest and dividend income represents the difference between interest and dividends earned on loans and securities and interest incurred on deposits and borrowings.  The level of net interest income is a function of volume, rates and mix of both earning assets and interest-bearing liabilities.  Net interest income can be adversely affected by changes in interest rate levels, changes in the volume of assets and liabilities that are subject to re-pricing within different future time periods, and in the level of non-performing assets.

Interest and Dividend Income

On a tax equivalent basis, interest and dividend income decreased $718,000, or 2.6%, to $27.0 million in 2009.  Loan income decreased $189,000, or 1.0%, primarily due to lower average yields, down 48 basis points, the impact of which was substantially offset by a $20.1 million increase in average loans.  The decline in the average loan yield was caused by lower market interest rates in 2009 and their effect on loan re-pricing and loan re-financing activity.

 
On a tax equivalent basis, income from securities decreased $227,000, or 2.5%, in 2009, as a result of lower yields due to portfolio re-pricing and changes in portfolio mix versus 2008, offset in part by an 8.1% increase in average volume. In February 2009, the FHLBB announced a suspension of quarterly dividends. In 2008 and 2007, Salisbury earned tax-equivalent FHLBB dividend income of $275,000 and $441,000, respectively. At December 31, 2009, Salisbury held $6.0 million of FHLBB stock pursuant to its membership requirements.

Income from short term funds decreased $27,000 in 2009 as a result of significantly lower yields, down 211 basis points, while the average balance increased $27.6 million. The increase in short term funds resulted from the Bank’s significant deposit growth and management’s preference for increased liquidity during a year of heightened risk in the financial markets.

Interest Expense

Interest expense decreased $1.8 million, or 16.6%, to $9.0 million in 2009 as a result of decreases in interest rates paid, offset in part by higher average interest bearing deposits. Interest on deposit accounts and retail repurchase agreements, or sweep accounts, decreased $818,000, or 12.1%, as a result of lower interest rates paid, offset in part by an increase in average balances and changes in product mix. Average interest-bearing deposits and retail repurchase agreements increased $67.8 million, or 24.8%, while their average rate decreased 73 basis points to 1.73%.  Interest expense on FHLBB borrowings decreased $975,000 as a result of lower average borrowings, down $11.7 million, and lower borrowing rates, down 56 basis points as compared with 2008, due mostly to the early redemption of $19 million of FHLBB advances in late 2008.

Provision and Allowance for Loan Losses

Salisbury recorded a provision for loan losses of $985,000 in 2009, compared with $1,279,000 in 2008, reflecting lower net loan charge-offs of $236,000 in 2009, compared with $1,030,000 in 2008. The following table sets forth changes in the allowance for loan losses and other selected statistics:

Years ended December 31, (dollars in thousands)
 
2009
   
2008
   
2007
   
2006
   
2005
 
Balance, beginning of period
  $ 2,724     $ 2,475     $ 2,474     $ 2,626     $ 2,512  
Provision (benefit) or loan losses
    985       1,279       -       (87 )     210  
Charge-offs
                                       
Real estate mortgages
    (106 )     (429 )     -       -       -  
Commercial & industrial
    (82 )     (495 )     (21 )     (25 )     (7 )
Consumer
    (78 )     (151 )     (82 )     (107 )     (128 )
Total charge-offs
    (266 )     (1,075 )     (103 )     (132 )     (135 )
Recoveries
                                       
Real estate mortgages
    -       3       39       -       -  
Commercial & industrial
    4       15       15       6       -  
Consumer
    26       27       50       61       39  
Total recoveries
    30       45       104       67       39  
Net (charge-offs) recoveries
    (236 )     (1,030 )     1       (65 )     (96 )
Balance, end of period
  $ 3,473     $ 2,724     $ 2,475     $ 2,474     $ 2,626  
Loans receivable, gross
  $ 330,144     $ 299,698     $ 270,361     $ 254,773     $ 218,623  
Non-performing loans
    7,445       5,175       1,824       964       773  
Accruing loans past due 30-89 days
    4,098       4,277       4,075       1,397     $ 1,466  
Ratio of allowance for loan losses:
                                       
to loans receivable, gross
    1.05 %     0.91 %     0.92 %     0.97 %     1.20 %
to non-performing loans
    46.65       52.63       135.69       256.64       339.72  
Ratio of non-performing loans to loans receivable, gross
    2.25       1.73       0.67       0.38       0.35  
Ratio of accruing loans past due 30-89 days to loans receivable, gross
    1.24       1.43       1.51       0.55       0.67  

Reserve coverage at December 31, 2009, as measured by the ratio of allowance for loan losses to gross loans was up slightly, at 1.05%, as compared with 0.91% at December 31, 2008. Non-performing loans (non-accrual loans and accruing loans past-due 90 days or more) increased $2.3 million during 2009 to $7.4 million, or 2.25% of gross loans receivable, while accruing loans past due 30-89 days decreased $0.2 million to $4.1 million, or 1.24% of gross loans receivable.

The following table sets forth the allocation of the allowance for loan losses among the broad categories of the loan portfolio and the percentage of loans in each category to total loans.  Although the allowance has been allocated among loan categories for purposes of the table, it is important to recognize that the allowance is applicable to the entire portfolio.  Furthermore, charge-offs in the future may not necessarily occur in these amounts or proportions.

 
December 31
 
2009
   
2008
   
2007
   
2006
   
2005
 
(dollars in thousands)(a)
 
Allowance
   
Loans
   
Allowance
   
Loans
   
Allowance
   
Loans
   
Allowance
   
Loans
   
Allowance
   
Loans
 
Real Estate Mortgages
                                                           
Residential
  $ 488       49.63 %   $ 689       50.53 %   $ 515       48.94 %   $ 611       47.28 %   $ 661       49.44 %
Commercial
    1,428       21.22       1,274       20.95       1,024       19.91       803       19.96       677       18.71  
Construction, land & land development
    233       9.39       281       11.13       118       10.70       248       8.31       197       8.61  
Home equity credit
    397       10.03       73       8.54       76       9.72       255       9.79       321       12.59  
Total mortgage loans
    2,546       90.27       2,317       91.15       1,733       89.27       1,917       85.34       1,856       89.35  
Commercial & industrial
    630       8.00       272       6.94       505       7.63       342       6.46       495       7.02  
Consumer
    117       1.65       97       1.85       201       2.96       173       3.46       247       3.61  
General unallocated
    180       0.08       38       0.06       36       0.14       42       4.74       28       0.02  
Total allowance
  $ 3,473       100.00     $ 2,724       100.00     $ 2,475       100.00     $ 2,474       100.00     $ 2,626       100.00  
(a) Percent of loans in each category to total loans.

Salisbury determines its allowance and provisions for loan losses based upon a detailed evaluation of the loan portfolio through a process which considers numerous factors, including estimated credit losses based upon internal and external portfolio reviews, delinquency levels and trends, estimates of the current value of underlying collateral, concentrations, portfolio volume and mix, changes in lending policy, current economic conditions and historical loan loss experience.  Determining the level of the allowance at any given period is difficult, particularly during deteriorating or uncertain economic periods, and therefore management takes a relatively long view of loan loss asset quality measures.  Management must make estimates using assumptions and information that are often subjective and changing rapidly.  The review of the loan portfolio is a continuing event in light of a changing economy and the dynamics of the banking and regulatory environment.  Should the economic climate deteriorate, borrowers could experience difficulty and the level of non-performing loans, charge-offs and delinquencies could rise and require increased provisions.  In management's judgment, Salisbury remains adequately reserved both against total loans and non-performing loans at December 31, 2009.

The allowance for loan losses is computed by segregating the portfolio into various risk rating and product categories.  Some loans have been further segregated and carry specific reserve amounts.  All other loans that do not have specific reserves assigned are reserved based on a loss percentage assigned to the outstanding balance.  The percentage applied to the outstanding balance varies depending on the loan’s risk rating and product category, as well as present economic conditions, which have or may adversely affect the financial capacity and/or collateral values supporting the loan.

Management’s loan risk rating assignments, loss percentages and specific reserves are subjected annually to an independent credit review by an external firm. In addition, various regulatory agencies, as an integral part of their examination process, periodically review the Bank's allowance for loan losses.  Such agencies could require the Bank to recognize additions to the allowance based on their judgments of information available to them at the time of their examination.  The Bank was examined by the FDIC in February 2009, and by the State of Connecticut’s Department of Banking in August 2007, and no additions to the allowance were requested as a result of these examinations.

Non-Interest Income

Non-interest income increased $2,191,000, in 2009, of which $1,700,000 related to lower securities losses.  The principal categories of non-interest income are as follows:

Years ended December 31 (dollars in thousands)
 
2009
   
2008
   
2007
   
2009 vs. 2008
   
2008 vs. 2007
 
(Losses) gains on securities, net
  $ 473     $ 600     $ 295     $ (127 )     (21.2 )%   $ 305       103.4 %
Other-than-temporary impairment losses
    (1,128 )     (2,955 )     -       1,827       (61.8 )     (2,955 )     -  
Trust and wealth advisory
    1,978       2,264       2,050       (286 )     (12.6 )     214       10.4  
Service charges and fees
    1,818       1,930       1,606       (112 )     (5.8 )     324       20.2  
Gains on sales of mortgage loans, net
    743       344       387       399       116.0       (43 )     (11.1 )
Mortgage servicing, net
    80       (124 )     (50 )     204       164.5       (74 )     (148.0 )
Bank-owned life insurance
    394       166       160       228       137.3       6       3.8  
Other
    74       16       17       58       362.5       (1 )     (5.9 )
Total non-interest income
  $ 4,432     $ 2,241     $ 4,465     $ 2,191       97.8     $ (2,224 )     (49.8 )

In June 2009, Salisbury recognized a $1,128,000 write-down for Other-Than–Temporary-Impairment (“OTTI”) on five non-agency issued CMO securities. In 2008, Salisbury recognized a $2,955,000 write-down on Freddie Mac preferred stock following the U.S. Government placing FHLMC into conservatorship. Absent these losses, Salisbury would have realized securities gains of $473,000 and $600,000 in 2009 and 2008, respectively.

 
Excluding securities losses, all other non-interest income increased $491,000. Trust and wealth advisory fees declined in 2009, due mostly to a decline in the value of managed assets during 2008. The decline in service charges and fees was due to a $263,000 decrease in credit card fees, attributable to the sale of the credit card portfolio in 2008. Absent this, service charges and fees would have grown by $151,000 from increased transactional activity. Historically low borrowing rates generated significant mortgage refinancing activity in 2009 that resulted in increased mortgage loan sales and related income. Loan servicing is retained on substantially all loans sold. The change in mortgage servicing income is mostly due to the inclusion in 2008 of a mortgage servicing rights impairment charge. Income from bank-owned life insurance (BOLI) for 2009 benefited from a policy death settlement and a 1035 policy exchange, while income resulting from the increase in BOLI cash surrender value was substantially unchanged.

Non-Interest Expense

Non-interest expense increased $1,881,000, or 11.7%, in 2009. The principal categories of non-interest expense are as follows:


Years ended December 31 (dollars in thousands)
 
2009
   
2008
   
2007
   
2009 vs. 2008
   
2008 vs. 2007
 
Salaries
  $ 6,997     $ 6,472     $ 6,016     $ 525       8.1 %   $ 456       7.6 %
Employee benefits
    2,527       1,858       1,708       669       36.0       150       8.8  
Premises and equipment
    1,939       1,859       1,621       80       4.3       238       14.7  
Data processing
    1,473       1,339       1,194       134       10.0       145       12.2  
Professional fees
    1,508       1,269       931       239       18.8       338       36.3  
FDIC assessment
    914       60       45       854       1,423.3       15       33.3  
Marketing and community contributions
    342       457       349       (115 )     (25.2 )     108       30.9  
Printing and stationary
    298       277       280       21       7.6       (3 )     (1.1 )
OREO
    191       6       2       185       3,083.3       4       200.0  
Amortization of intangible assets
    164       164       164       -       -       -       -  
FHLBB advance prepayment fee
    -       864       -       (864 )     (100.0 )     864       -  
Other
    1,537       1,384       1,205       153       11.0       179       14.9  
Non-interest expense
  $ 17,890     $ 16,009     $ 13,515     $ 1,881       11.7     $ 2,494       18.5  

Salaries increased in 2009 due to changes in staffing mix, merit increases and higher mortgage loan origination commissions from increased loan originations. Employee benefits expense included additional pension expense, up $561,000, due primarily to the former CEO’s retirement. Data processing benefited from the sale of the credit card portfolio in 2008, saving $139,000 in credit card processing expense. The increase in other data processing expenses, up $134,000, related mostly to the Bank’s core processing systems and related technology applications and infrastructure. Professional fees for 2009 included, among other things, services related to the Bank’s participation in TARP and the acquisition of a branch office and related deposits and loans in Canaan, Connecticut.  The substantial increase in FDIC insurance expense, up $854,000, was due to higher premium rates, a 2009 special assessment and a higher assessment base from deposit growth. Salisbury also utilized $157,000 in FDIC credits available to them in 2008. OREO expense for 2009 includes a $125,000 write-down of the carrying value of a commercial property. In 2008, the Bank prepaid $19 million of FHLBB advances to restructure its wholesale borrowings and incurred a prepayment fee of $864,000. Other expense includes postage, telephone, director fees, bank charges and various other deposit, loan and administrative related operating expenses.

Income Taxes

Net income for 2009 included an income tax benefit of $49,000 compared with a 2008 income tax benefit of $421,000.  Salisbury’s effective tax rate was less than the 34% federal statutory rate due to tax-exempt income, primarily from municipal bonds and bank-owned life insurance. For further information on income taxes, see Note 11 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

Salisbury did not incur Connecticut income tax in 2009 or 2008, other than minimum state income tax, as a result of its utilization of Connecticut tax legislation that permits banks to shelter certain mortgage income from the Connecticut corporation business tax through the use of a special purpose entity called a Passive Investment Company (“PIC”).  In accordance with this legislation, in 2004 Salisbury formed a PIC, SBT Mortgage Service Corporation. Salisbury's income tax provision reflects the full impact of the Connecticut legislation. Salisbury does not expect to pay other than minimum state income tax in the foreseeable future unless there is a change in the State of Connecticut corporate tax law.

Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2008 and 2007

Net Interest and Dividend Income

Net interest and dividend income  (presented on a tax-equivalent basis) increased $2,076,000 in 2008 over 2007 due primarily to a $31.5 million, or 7.5%,  increase in average earning assets and a 21 basis point increase in the net interest margin to 3.74% from 3.54%. The increase in the net interest margin was mostly due to loan growth, which more than offset the effect of lower interest rates, and a significant decline in deposit rates.

 
Interest Income

Interest and dividend income increased $415,000, or 1.5%, to $27.8 million in 2008. Loan income increased $480,000, or 2.7%, primarily due to a $29.2 million, or 11.3%, increase in average loans, which more than offset lower average yields, down 54 basis points. The decline in the average loan yield was caused by lower market interest rates in 2008 and their effect on loan re-pricing and loan re-financing activity. Income from securities increased $29,000 in 2008, as a 5 basis point increase in average yield was substantially offset by $0.9 million decrease in average volume. The decline in market interest rates was also reflected in lower FHLBB dividend income. Income from short term funds increased $72,000 in 2008 as a result of higher average balances, offset in part by lower average yields, down 9 basis points.

Interest Expense

Interest expense decreased $1.6 million, or 12.9%, to $10.8 million in 2008, as a result of decreases in interest rates paid, offset in part by higher average interest-bearing deposits. Interest on deposit accounts decreased $1,567,000, or 19.1%, as a result of lower interest rates paid, offset in part by an increase in average balances and changes in product mix. Average interest-bearing deposits increased $22.3 million, or 9.0%, while their average rate decreased 86 basis points to 2.47%. Salisbury introduced retail repurchase agreements, or sweep accounts, during the year and attracted $4.9 million in average balances that grew to $11.2 million by December 31, 2008. Interest expense on FHLBB borrowings decreased $146,000 as a result of higher average borrowings, up $2.1 million, offset in part by lower borrowing rates, down 28 basis points as compared with 2008. Salisbury redeemed $19 million of FHLBB advances in late 2008.

Provision and Allowance for Loan Losses

Salisbury recorded a provision for loan losses of $1,279,000 in 2008, compared with no provision in 2007, due to increases in loan delinquencies and net loan charge-offs. During 2008, non-performing loans increased $3.4 million to $5.2 million at December 31, 2008, or 1.73% of gross loans receivable, from $1.8 million, or 0.67%, at December 31, 2007. Net loans charged-off during 2008 increased to $1,030,000 compared with net loan recoveries of $1,000 in 2007. Reserve coverage at December 31, 2008, as measured by the ratio of allowance for loan losses to gross loans was substantially unchanged, at 0.91%, as compared with 0.92% at December 31, 2007.

Non-Interest Income

Non-interest income decreased $2,230,000 in 2009, of which $2,650,000 related to increased securities losses.  In 2008, Salisbury recognized a $2,955,000 write-down on FHLMC preferred stock following the U.S. Government placing FHLMC into conservatorship. Absent these losses, Salisbury realized securities gains of $600,000 and $295,000 in 2008 and 2007, respectively. Excluding securities losses, all other non-interest income increased $731,000. Trust and wealth advisory fees increased in 2008 due to business development efforts. The increase in service charges and fees was due primarily to increased deposit account transactional activity. Mortgage refinancing activity fell during 2008 and gains on sales of mortgage loans fell respectively. Loan servicing is retained on substantially all loans sold. The change in mortgage servicing income is mostly due to the inclusion in 2008 of a mortgage servicing rights impairment charge.

Non-Interest Expense

Non-interest expense increased $2,495,000, or 18.5%, in 2008. Salaries and benefits increased in 2008 due to increased staffing and merit increases and related health benefit costs and payroll taxes. The increase in staff resulted from the opening of a new branch in Dover Plains, New York, in August 2007. The increase in premises and equipment, and data processing expense also relates to the additional branch office and increased business activity. Professional fees for 2008 included, among other things, increased audit expense resulting from additional services required due to compliance requirements such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other regulations, and legal and consulting fees for various research and marketing initiatives during the year. During the fourth quarter of 2008, Salisbury prepaid a $19 million advance from the FHLBB at a cost of $864,000 to restructure a portion of its borrowings. The borrowings, which had a rate of 5.97%, were replaced with new FHLBB advances with much lower interest rates and a revised maturity schedule. While the prepayment resulted in a one time after tax expense of $674,000 the re-financing was expected to reduce borrowing expense in future years. The increase in other expense was primarily attributable to normal operational expenses associated with growth.

Income Taxes

Net income for 2008 included an income tax benefit of $421,000 compared with a 2007 income tax provision of $870,000, representing an 18.6% effective tax rate.  The difference between the effective tax rate and the 34% federal statutory rate was due to tax-exempt income and other related matters.

FINANCIAL CONDITION

Overview

During 2009, Salisbury’s assets grew $67 million to $562 million at December 31, 2009.  Net loans receivable grew $30 million, or 10.10%, to $327 million. Non-performing assets increased $2.3 million to $7.7 million at December 31, 2009, of which a single loan relationship accounts for $3.0 million. Reserve coverage, as measured by the ratio of the allowance for loan losses to gross loans receivable increased slightly to 1.05% at December 31, 2009, compared with 0.91% at December 31, 2008.


Asset growth was facilitated by significant deposit growth. Deposits grew $73 million to $418 million at December 31, 2009 from $345 million at December 31, 2008. This significant growth in deposits stems from customer preference for the safety of insured deposits during a year of heightened uncertainty in the financial markets, a concerted effort by Salisbury to expand deposit relationships with customers, and the assumption of $11 million in deposits from the purchase of Webster Bank’s Canaan branch  in December 2009.

In March 2009, Salisbury issued $8.8 million of preferred stock pursuant to the U.S. Treasury’s TARP Capital Purchase Program.

At December 31, 2009, book value per common share was $25.81 and tier 1 leverage and total risk-based capital ratios were 8.39% and 12.86%, respectively. Salisbury and the Bank are categorized as "well capitalized".

Securities

During 2009, securities decreased $5 million to $151 million, while short-term funds (interest-bearing deposits with other banks, money market funds and federal funds sold) increased $34 million to $37 million as Salisbury increased its liquidity position in light of historically low interest rates and growth in volatile deposits. The carrying values of securities are as follows:

December 31 (dollars in thousands)
 
2009
   
2008
   
2007
 
Available-for-Sale
                 
U.S. Treasury bills
  $ 2,000     $ -     $ -  
U.S. Government agency notes
    24,832       41,271       46,859  
Municipal bonds
    47,153       55,696       56,980  
Mortgage backed securities
    33,927       26,815       36,583  
Collateralized mortgage obligations
    29,267       23,938       4,970  
SBA pools
    6,640       2,787       -  
Other
    1,212       20       1,985  
Held-to-Maturity
                       
Mortgage backed security
    62       66       71  
Non-Marketable
                       
FHLBB stock
    6,032