By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
BEACON FALLS — The town finished the 2019-20 fiscal year with a budget surplus of about $1.3 million, an audit showed.
Revenue during the 2019-20 fiscal year came in $799,476 more than what was budgeted, while the town spent $547,110 less than budgeted to finish with the surplus, according to the annual financial audit, which was done by the firm MahoneySabol.
The town’s total budget for 2019-20, including school expenses for Region 16, was $22.3 million.
The higher-than-expected revenue stems from $424,250 in property taxes, including back taxes and fees, collected above what was budgeted and an additional $426,622 in grant revenue.
Finance Manager Natasha Nau said the tax collector’s office did an excellent job with collections.
The bulk of the additional grant revenue, about $380,000, was a long-awaited reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for costs associated with a tornado that touched down in town in 2018, Nau said.
The town froze all discretionary spending when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Connecticut last March, Nau said. The town also didn’t spend money on budgeted items, including recreational activities and athletic field reconstruction, after the pandemic hit, she said. The combination of the spending freeze and not incurring budgeted costs were factors in the town spending less than anticipated.
“All of the little things added up,” Nau said.
The surplus boosted the town’s unassigned fund balance — funds that are not earmarked for a specific expense — to $3.7 million as of June 30, 2020, according to the audit.
The town’s policy is to keep the unassigned fund balance at a level that is at least 9.25% of the town’s budget, which would be enough to operate the town for two months. The $3.7 million is about 16.5% of the town’s total $22.6 million budget for this fiscal year.
Officials typically allocate some money from the unassigned fund balance above the 9.25% floor to pay for capital projects. The 2020-21 budget includes $362,702 from the unassigned fund balance for capital projects. Officials are continuing workshops for the 2021-22 budget.