Letter: Finance chairman requests support for budget

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letters_flatTo the editor,

I would like to update the citizens of Beacon Falls on the proposed budget, provide them with some facts that are important for them to consider, and request their support by voting in favor of it at the referendum scheduled for June 5. Keeping any increase to a minimum while ensuring minimal impact to town services was a challenge, and I’m very proud of the resulting proposal because it does just that.

The Board of Finance only has control of the town’s operating budget, which represents 31 percent of a taxpayer’s bill. The remaining 69 percent is the responsibility of Region 16. Of what is in our control, expenses can be categorized as departmental (services such as police and fire), capital projects (one time purchases), and debt service (accumulated principal and interest owed). Departmental expenses make up the largest portion of these (87 percent), and we cut them by .7 percent. We did this through review of literally every line, looking for opportunity to reduce the amount by reviewing the actual spent in the current year. Additionally there were cuts to positions, and salaries for all elected officials remain at their current levels. 

Using the same numbers from the hearing, the total increase would have been 1.4 mills, of which 1.3 would be attributable to Region 16. As a result of the additional cuts made after the hearing, the town’s contribution to any tax increases will be less than .1 mill.

We have cut the budget with a scalpel, not an axe, making informed decisions based upon information. We have managed to preserve funding for a new library study, accounted for the potential cost of a new fire truck, and maintained funding for important community events such as the concert series and Independence Day fireworks, all while barely impacting the bottom line to the taxpayer. This budget has the unanimous support of the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectman, and two former First Selectmen (one from each party) expressed verbal support in the hearing. If this budget is rejected by the town, considering we have already made significant cuts to core services, the first items up for debate will be the non-core items I’ve referred to above. We simply cannot cut more into department services without adding risk, and once items are cut from a budget they are very difficult to put back in. And at the end of the day if we make those cuts, the taxpayer’s bill will still go up based almost entirely on a budget outside of our control. 

I am happy to answer any questions at my email address jhuk@townofbeaconfalls.com and please look for a copy of the presentation from the hearing on the town website at www.beaconfalls-ct.org. Most importantly, please vote in favor of the proposed budget on June 5, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Sincerely,

Jim Huk

Board of Finance Chairman

Beacon Falls