Beacon Falls boards adopt budget, set tax rate


By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

BEACON FALLS — The town’s tax rate will stay the same for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a total $22.6 million budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year at its May 11 meeting.

The spending plan includes a $7.4 million municipal operating budget, a $362,702 transfer from the unassigned fund balance — or surplus — for capital projects, and $14.7 million for the town’s share of the Region 16 school budget.

The budget increases overall spending by $292,138, or 1.3%, over the 2019-20 budget. The additional spending was offset by increases in revenue, allowing officials to keep the tax rate at 35.9 mills for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The Board of Finance officially set the tax rate at its May 12 meeting.

The tax rate is the amount of taxes payable on the assessed value of property. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. The taxes for a home assessed at $100,000 are $3,590 under a tax rate of 35.9 mills.

“I think it was a good, fair budget. It helps us get some infrastructure and other equipment,” First Selectman Gerard Smith said.

Smith added the selectmen and finance board members worked collaboratively on the budget.

“It keeps the tax rate flat,” Smith said. “It’s a good budget.”

The Board of Selectmen, instead of the voters, approved the budget this year. The state waived in-person voting requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The municipal budget covers contractual increases, like 2.5% raises for employees.

The town’s budget also includes $26,000 for a new, part-time recreation director position to expand and improve programs offered in town, and $17,000 for new town planner position that will be shared through the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments.

The spending plan also funds a full-time resident state trooper again at $200,000.

Under the resident state trooper program, Connecticut State Police provide at least one trooper and other services, such as dispatch and booking, for towns. Last year, Beacon Falls and Bethany agreed to share a trooper and split the costs from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2022.

Beacon Falls has opted to end the agreement starting July 1. Officials have said sharing a trooper led to an increase in overtime for municipal police officers to cover shifts when the trooper is in Bethany.

The capital projects in the budget include $44,158 for a payment for a new ambulance, $50,000 to replace an EMS vehicle, $36,551 for a payment for a new plow truck, and $41,000 to install a generator for the town garage.