Audit shows surplus for Beacon Falls despite dip in state funding

BEACON FALLS — The town ended the 2017-18 fiscal year on a positive note, despite having to deal with the side effects of the state’s financial troubles.

An audit of the town’s finances, completed by the Glastonbury-based certified public accountant firm Mahoney Sabol & Company, showed the town ended the 2017-18 fiscal year with a slight surplus of $198,304.

The audit was presented during the Board of Finance’s Feb. 21 meeting.

The surplus comes despite the fact Beacon Falls collected nearly $454,000 less in revenue than officials budgeted for in the fiscal year, according to the audit. This included $656,513 less in state funding.

Michael VanDeventer, a partner with Mahoney Sabol, said the state did not fund some of the grants it usually gives to the town.

The loss in revenue was offset by the fact the town collected nearly $278,000 more in property taxes than budgeted and spent about $652,000 less than anticipated, according to the audit.

Most of the savings came in school spending. According to the audit, the town paid about $438,000 less to Region 16, which oversees schools in Prospect and Beacon Falls.

The state cut the town’s Education Cost Sharing grant during the fiscal year, and the Region 16 Board of Education absorbed the cut with a surplus realized early on within the school budget.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the audit is part of a trend of good financial health in the town and the result of a combined effort between boards and departments in town.

“I think if you review the audits we have had over the last five years, you will see a continuous trend in how we’ve been operating where we do our best to manage the funds we have and look for efficiencies where we can find them. We have never run in the red,” Bielik said.

According to the audit, the town’s general fund balance at the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year was $3 million, which was a decrease of about $247,000 from the previous year.

VanDeventer said the decrease was due to the town using the fund during the year to cover the loss of state grants.

There is currently $2.8 million in the unassigned fund balance, which represents 12.8 percent of the current budget, according to the audit. This fiscal year the town has nearly $50,000 from the general fund earmarked for use.

Bielik said he is concerned about the amount of money the town will need to use if the state continues to cut funding, especially education funding.

“That’s something we will have to work with Region 16 on to try and contain those costs in the school budget and not necessarily have a direct impact to the municipal side,” Bielik said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article reported the Board of Finance approved the 2017-18 audit at its Feb. 21 meeting. The audit was presented at the meeting. The board will approve it at an upcoming meeting.