Beacon Falls budget passes at town meeting

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By Elio Gugliotti, Editor

BEACON FALLS — Voters on June 2 approved the 2021-22 municipal budget, which lowers taxes, at a town meeting that lasted less than 10 minutes at the Beacon Falls Senior Center.

Voters supported the roughly $7.95 million town operating budget and a plan to spend nearly $900,000 on capital projects by a vote of 28-1.

The municipal budget increases town spending by $473,596, or about 6.3%, from this fiscal year. The budget includes contractual increases, like 2.5% raises for town employees and a 5% jump in the cost of medical benefits.

The budget also raises the first selectman salary from $55,000 to $62,000. The salaries for the treasurer, selectmen and registrar of voters positions will increase $250 to $13,750. The new salaries are prorated in the budget and won’t take effect until after the November election.

The budget allocates $897,204 from the town’s unassigned fund balance, or surplus, for capital projects. The projects include $211,300 for new a fund dedicated to pay for replacing town vehicles, $165,000 for a payment to replace a fire engine with a pumper truck and a tanker truck, $100,000 to help pay for a property revaluation, $77,000 for an excavator and $50,806 to help pay to replace the roof at Town Hall.

“I’m glad everyone supported our fiscally responsible budget,” said First Selectman Gerard Smith following the meeting.

The municipal budget doesn’t include the $40.9 million 2021-22 school budget for Region 16, which is composed of Beacon Falls and Prospect. The Region 16 budget increases overall school spending by $253,657. However, Beacon Falls’ net education cost decreased about $622,000 to about $10.2 million largely due to the percentage of Beacon Falls students in the region going from 36.75% to 35% this school year, which shifted more of the net cost onto Prospect.

The town’s total budget is about $23.4 million, which is an increase of about $771,500, or 3.4%, from this fiscal year. The increase was offset, and then some, by revenues, including using $246,500 from the fund balance as revenue.

After the town meeting, the Board of Finance set the 2021-22 tax rate at 34.9 mills, which is a decrease of 1 mill, or about 2.7%.

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. Under a 34.9 mill tax rate, property taxes on a home assessed at $100,000 are $3,490. The 1-mill decrease equates to $100 less in taxes for every $100,000 of assessed value.

Board of Finance Chairman Thomas Pratt said the support the budget received from voters is a positive sign that the town is moving forward under the present administration.

“I think the people understand things needed (in town) are getting done, and the mill rate being dropped brings it all together,” he said.

Voters at the meeting also approved transferring $49,679 from the snow removal budget this fiscal year to pavement maintenance.