Beacon Falls finance board adjusts budget

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BFTownHallBEACON FALLS — The Board of Finance approved a new town budget proposal for 2013-14 Tuesday night, after voters rejected a roughly $6.2 million budget at a referendum last week.

The original budget failed by 46 votes, with 327 no votes and 281 yes votes, June 6. In response to the defeat, the finance board backed a second proposal of $6.12 million. The new budget is an increase of $102,559 or 1.7 percent over the current spending plan.

Officials said the current municipal proposal would decrease the mill rate by .3 mills. This does not include expenses for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. Region 16’s nearly $38.5 million budget proposal will go to a vote early next week.

Board of Finance Chairman Jim Huk had one message for voters after the board had finished with the new proposed budget.

“We lowered taxes,” Huk said.

Although the town budget is increasing, its impact on the mill rate will be a reduction due in part to higher than anticipated funding from the state.

Huk said since the state has passed its budget the town now has real numbers to work with and are receiving approximately 4 percent more than they had originally budgeted.

The board removed about $76,000 from operating expenses in the budget plan, including a $72,000 bond payment for a new fire engine for Beacon Hose Company No. 1.

The board had previously voted to use $300,000 from the sale of the town’s cell tower on Lopus Road to fix the firehouse roof, which is estimated to cost approximately $66,000, and put the rest towards a down payment on the new engine, which is estimated to cost $695,000. The remaining cost would have been bonded. 

Beacon Hose’s current fire engine is 25 years old and in need of repairs. The engine the town is seeking to buy is both a 500-gallon pumper and a ladder truck.   

The board decided to pay for the roof out of this year’s budget from the contingency funds.  

Officials plan to pay for the new fire engine through a bond. Both the roof project and the truck will have to go to town meetings and residents will have to vote to accept them before the town can move forward on them.

Huk felt removing those two items from the budget and bringing them to residents for a vote will be easier than just forcing them through in the budget.

“We’re giving them an a la carte menu as opposed to prix fixe. Prix fixe is throw it all in the budget. A la carte is choose your truck, choose your roof, choose your budget,” Huk said.

The board also removed $6,000 from the proposed increase to the building inspector’s line item.

Board members said they had received messages from concerned residents over why the inspector’s line item was increasing.

Although they had explained that it was not a raise, but rather he would be working more hours due to state mandates about inspections, board members felt other residents might still be concerned and removed the money as a precaution.

In removing that money they also had to remove an equal amount of revenue the town was expecting to receive from the increased number of inspections.

The board also adjusted figures for the senior tax credit down to $64,000 from approximately $80,000.

A town meeting is set for June 19 to revise the ordinance that governs the tax relief credit. The change will allow eligible senior citizens to receive the full tax credit of $500. As the ordinance stands now, the town can only give a total of $64,000 for the credit.

Huk explained if the revision to the ordinance is approved the will have to raise the mill rate to cover the shortfall.

The budget proposal was sent to the Board of Selectmen for its approval and to schedule a public hearing and a vote on the spending plan.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Just did a quick number check:

    The total funds requested by all departments in the first budget brought to the Board of Finance in March was $5,786,856. The total in the current budget is $5,534,715, leaving cuts of $252,141 on department lines only. That results in a decrease from last year’s line items of .8%.

  2. Read all of the minutes. Plenty of cuts were made.
    I’ll let the readers decide who to trust: the guy with the spreadsheet that calculates the mil rate, or you.
    It’s just math.

  3. Juggle the balls anyway you want, my taxes will go up and the Board of Finance will be responsible for it. Your decision to play games with how to present a tax increase does not bode well for your credibility on the other items in the budget. I read the minutes from the meeting where you “lowered taxes” and read from it an air of arrogance towards the taxpayers of this town. Why would you not remove the #11,000 for the library study as one resident mentioned? Does anyone think that this community will vote for a multimillion building project when the last several projects were under funded and we were lied to about grants to pay for them?

    Make real cuts not count on increased revenues that the state can change at a moments notice.

  4. If the ordinance changes, taxes still go down.
    The truck is not shelved and was always going to be a separate vote.

  5. Smoke & Mirrors. You are hitching your wagon to a hope that the ordinance change will be defeated and you threw the firemen under the wheels of their aged firetruck.

  6. Hi:
    Just want to be clear on the issue of the senior tax credit. This is not part of the budget and the Board of Finance has absolutely no control over the number. It is provided to us from the tax assessor and used after the budget is passed to determine the mil rate. Our change to $64k on Tuesday was not to the budget and not to reduce the mil rate. It was recognition, as the issue has been raised separately, that the current ordinance calls for a $64k limit on total credits, which we applied to our worksheet to project the mil rate. Should the ordinance change, we will revert back to the $144k and discuss at the town meeting.
    Oh, and we lowered taxes.
    Sincerely,
    Jim Huk