Surplus helps grow fund balance

BEACON FALLS — The town’s fund balance received a boost thanks to ending the 2016-17 fiscal year with a surplus.

An audit of the 2016-17 budget showed the town ended the fiscal year with a $298,857 balance. The money goes into the fund balance, which increased to $2.9 million or 14 percent of the total budget. This means the town would be able to continue to operate for 1.7 months without collecting any money.

Michael VanDeventer, a partner with the firm that conducted the audit, MahoneySabol, said the surplus primarily comes from money the town received back from Region 16, which oversees schools in Prospect and Beacon Falls, the sale of the former Community School in Prospect, and a higher-than-expected tax collection rate.

The town also spent less money than it budgeted, VanDeventer said.

The town often uses one-time revenue sources for capital projects. After factoring in money put toward capital projects, the net result was the $298,857 surplus.

The audit also highlighted some areas where the town could make improvements, including reclassifying financial encumbrances before the audit process begins, creating a formal procedure to identify capital assets and disposals, and removing depleted assets from financial records before the audit starts.

“None of these items rose to the level that we felt they needed to be communicated in the audit reports as deficiencies. These are really just areas where we felt there could be improvements,” VanDeventer said.

VanDeventer, who worked on the town’s audit last year as well, said the town has made strides in fixing past problems.

“We had significant deficiencies we have reported in the past. We are pretty happy now with where your processes stand,” VanDeventer said. “One thing we have done in the past year is revised our fees. We decreased them. That is in large part due to the improvements we have seen here in the town, which has required less work on our part.”

First Selectman Christopher Bielik was pleased with the outcome of the audit.

“It’s always nice to get validation from an independent source that the good job you think you are doing actually shows up on paper,” Bielik said. “We got a couple recommendations we can use to make things even better.”

Bielik said a lot of the credit goes to the finance department, which has implemented a lot of the recommended changes.

Board of Finance Vice Chairman Joe Rodorigo echoed Bielik’s sentiments, saying the audit showed the town is moving in a positive direction.

“I am always pleased at the end of the fiscal year when the documents bear out what we anticipate. That is that the town is in good financial health, that we have controls in place to monitor and make sure we are spending people’s money appropriately, and that we are using the surpluses appropriately for capital projects,” Rodorigo said.