Officials adjust town budget proposal

BEACON FALLS — With firmer figures in hand, officials have made some adjustments to the 2018-19 spending plan that voters rejected at a town meeting in April in anticipation of setting a new budget proposal next week to send to another vote.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the adjustments were the result of the town receiving new information regarding expenses.

The cost of liability insurance and workers’ compensation came in 5 percent and 10 percent less, respectively, than anticipated, Bielik said. The town also budgeted a 5 percent increase in health insurance, but the increase came in at 8 percent, he said.

The net of these changes equates to a savings of $14,500, according to Bielik.

Officials are also anticipating saving about $21,000 due to the retirement of Finance Manager Thomas Broesler, who announced his intention to retire after the budget vote in April.

Bielik said the saving stems from Broesler’s replacement making less money an hour, since the next person won’t have the seniority Broesler has accumulated, and the position will be 25 hours a week as opposed to the 29 hours Broesler works weekly now.

Officials also reduced the net education cost for the Region 16 school budget by $59,421 based on projections as of last week in the proposed school budget, Bielik said.

The town’s first budget proposal anticipated a higher increase in school expenses. After last week’s budget worship, the town’s estimated net education cost was reduced significantly more due to an increase in the Education Cost Sharing grant, school officials announced this week.

Overall, the adjustments made last week amount to about $95,000 in spending reductions.

Board of Finance Chairman Marc Bronn said he’s comfortable with where the budget is heading, adding most of the figures that were estimates in the first budget proposal that was brought to a vote are now known.

In total, the first budget proposal was about $7.15 million, which included a roughly $6.84 million operating budget and $308,600 for a list of capital projects. The town’s proposed operating budget would have increased by $96,090, but the town would have had to raise an additional $141,700 in taxes to cover it due to a projected decrease in revenues. The capital projects are paid with money from the town’s unassigned fund balance and don’t impact the mill rate.

The budget proposal was projected to increase the town’s mill rate by 0.3 mills to 36.2 mills. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed property value. The proposal used about $75,000 from the town’s unassigned fund balance to supplement revenues and help keep the mill rate increase down.

Bielik said officials are hoping to finalize a budget plan that would keep the mill rate flat without using money from the unassigned fund balance.

The legislature last week approved revisions to the second year of the current two-year, state budget. Bronn said the revised state aid numbers were the last piece of the puzzle. He expects to be able to present a budget with no impact on the mill rate.

Bielik said town officials have another budget workshop planned for early next week to continue reviewing the budget.

“I felt that it was a really solid budget when we took it to a vote the first time,” Bielik said. “We’ve made some adjustments based on newly received information that helped improve the position from where we were starting with, and I’m very comfortable with where we are going.”