Audit shows surplus for Beacon Falls

BEACON FALLS — The town ended the 2015-16 fiscal year on a high fiscal note.

An audit of the town’s finances showed Beacon Falls ended the fiscal year with a $505,311 surplus.

The audit was completed by Glastonbury-based Mahoney Sabol & Company.

Board of Finance Chairman Joe Rodorigo said the largest driver behind the town’s surplus was the surplus in the school budget for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect.

Any surplus funds in the school budget is returned to the towns in the form a credit on their school expenses, which frees up money set aside to pay for the school budget.

The town budgeted to receive $175,000 back, but actually got $519,000, or $344,000 more, Rodorigo said.

“That’s a reflection of them over budgeting,” Rodorigo said of the Region 16 Board of Education and the school surplus.

The town also collected more in back taxes than anticipated.

Rodorigo said the town budgeted $300,000 in back taxes. The actual amount collected was about $400,000, he said.

“We are thrilled our tax collector is not only going after back taxes but collecting more than we budgeted for,” Rodorigo said.

Rodorigo said the municipal budget, which doesn’t include school spending, finished with a roughly $70,000 surplus due to items that came in less expensive than what the town budgeted.

“What’s it is reflective of is we are budgeting very close to what our expenditures are. We are making estimates closer to the real costs. We have got it down to under $100,000, which is about as good as it gets,” Rodorigo said.

The money from the surplus goes into the town’s general fund balance. According to the audit, the town’s fund balance was $2,710,594, or 13.1 percent of the total operating budget, at the end of the fiscal year.

Rodorigo said the general fund balance is historically used for one-time expenses, such as the upgrades to Highland Avenue the town undertook in 2016. However, he said, with Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed state budget, the money might have to be used to offset some of the proposed state cuts in aid.

“One-time revenue is supposed to be spent on one-time expenditures. What the government is passing down to us is expenditures from now to the end of time,” Rodorigo said. “[The money from the fund balance] will help soften blow but it won’t fix the underlying problem. We will still have to make it up next year.”