Selectmen eye surplus funds for projects

BEACON FALLS — The Board of Selectmen on Monday unveiled a plan to spend nearly $429,000 from the general fund surplus to pay for 16 capital projects.

Currently, the town’s general fund is approximately $1.2 million, which is nearly 19 percent of the town’s $6.37 million operating budget.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the board has been looking for a “good way to expend those funds that moves the town forward in the direction we want it to go.”

The proposal includes using $83,890 to pay off leases on equipment for the ambulance, a truck for the Public Works Department, and a mobile command unit for the fire department.

Selectman Michael Krenesky asked what the town would be saving by paying off those three leases. He didn’t think it was the best use of the money to spend $45,000 if the town was only going to save $1,000.

Bielik said he didn’t have the numbers of what the town would save, but believed paying off the leases would have a greater impact than just saving money.

“There’s a bigger picture there. If we are taking excess general fund balance now to pay these things off that is money that is not going to have to go into future budgets. So it is an automatic budget reduction using one-time revenue upfront,” Bielik said. “Over and above the pure dollars I think there is a value in going that way.”

The largest single project proposed to be funded is $200,000 for the reconstruction of West Road. The money would be used in concert with a $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant the town recently received from the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management.

Bielik said the $200,000 would be money well spent.

“That seems to me to be self-evident, considering we certainly have the excess funding on the books and we’ve got $500,000 of state money pledged to the project. So for $200,000 we get a $700,000 project done,” Bielik said.

The proposed plan also includes $30,500 to replace the roof of the concession stand and bathrooms at the Pent Road Recreation Complex, and the senior center.

Bielik said using excess funds to help offset the cost of capital projects is something the town has been doing for many years.

“Our policy has always been using one-time excess revenue for one-time capital purchases. That is always our intention. That is one of the processes we have been using for the last several years that has led directly to the AA bond rating that we have,” Bielik said.

Bielik said the practice was pointed out by Standard & Poor’s Financial Services as a “fiscally-prudent” technique.

The board unanimously voted to present all 16 proposed expenditures to the Board of Finance at its Oct. 11 meeting.

If the Board of Finance approves the proposal, it will have to go before voters for approval at a town meeting.