Officials send budget to hearing

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BEACON FALLS — Town officials have approved a 2014-15 budget proposal to send to a public hearing later this month.

The proposed 2014-15 municipal budget is $6.21 million, which is an increase of approximately $33,000 or 0.54 percent over current spending.

The budget will head to a public hearing at 7 p.m. on April 29. It is scheduled to be held at Laurel Ledge Elementary School, 30 Highland Ave.

According to budget documents, some of the largest increases come under employee benefits. Workers’ compensation insurance is set to increase $33,000 to $150,000, Social Security will go up about $25,000 to $157,000, and pension costs are going up nearly $17,000 to $342,500.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said officials were able to help offset some of the costs by carefully going over each line and seeing what could be cut.

 “The Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance put a lot of effort into identifying the necessary operating costs and breaking out from how we’ve done things in past,” Bielik said.

Officials were able to cut from some areas. The largest cut, nearly $50,000, comes under emergency services. The cuts include $10,400 from vehicle fuel for the fire department, $10,000 from the physicals and inoculations line item from the fire department and $7,000 in building maintenance for the firehouse.

The budget also includes a $19,000 cut in the police wages. This reduction comes from a senior officer retiring and being replaced by a new patrolman, Bielik explained during an earlier budget meeting.

The town’s revenues have also increased. Tax collections are up $73,000 in current taxes and approximately $188,000 in back taxes.

Bielik said these numbers are on the conservative side, and he expects more revenue than the town is planning for will come in.

The boards also looked over the operating items of each department to see if anything could be moved into the capital projects portion of the budget.

Bielik said this allowed the capital projects budget to be broken out in such a way that they are more transparent to everybody.

“It is leaner than it was in past, but funds operating needs of the town,” Bielik said.

Board of Finance Chairman Joe Dowdell said in an email he believes the proposal is a good one.

“Coming in at less than 1 percent increase should show how hard the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen worked on it,” Dowdell said.

The town budget does not include education spending for Region 16, which oversees schools in Prospect and Beacon Falls. The Region 16 Board of Education has proposed a $39.7 million budget for the coming school year.

Copies of the proposed budget are available for review in the town clerk’s office. Budget information can also be found on the town website.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This article does not mention if the proposed budget is available at Town Hall for us to review prior to the hearing, and without having it in hand, I would be concerned at what expenses are not in the budget. I understand that the one approach taken was to remove all capital projects. If so, are these going to be proposed at a later date? At face value the reductions mentioned here to Emergency services line items seem extreme. Are they being covered through another method? Is there a roads repair package being proposed outside this budget? What is happening to the Wolfe Avenue property? Is there a plan for maintenance of our parks? I hear that multiple business on Main Street have or are closing – is there an economic plan being proposed to bring business to town to help offset property taxes? What happened to the firetruck?

    This budget may or may not be in the best interest of Beacon Falls. I am expecting to hear a very detailed explanation of the proposal at the hearing. I just hope it is well attended and people do not just write it off as a “minor increase”.