BY ANDREAS YILMA
BEACON FALLS — The town’s 2023-24 operating budget has passed — with a 3.26% increase from this fiscal year and a slight mill rate increase.
Town residents voted 40 to 3 to approve an $8.8 million town operating budget and $541,014 for the 2023-24 non-reoccuring capital projects/transfer schedule for a total of $9.3 million at the Beacon Falls Senior Center on May 11.
Board of Finance Chairman James Carroll said it was a good voter turnout and the vote shows that the town supports what officials on the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance did.
“We cut everything that we can cut. If the thing got defeated tonight, there’d be nothing else to cut,” Carroll said. “I don’t know where else we would go.”
The municipal budget doesn’t include the $43 million 2023-24 school budget for Region 16, which is comprised of Beacon Falls and Prospect.
The school budget increased Beacon Falls’ net education cost by about $320,000 to about $14.9 million.
The town’s total proposed budget is about $24.3 million, an increase of about $750,000 from this fiscal year. The budget proposal increases the tax rate by 1.25 mill to 29.56 mills in 2023-24.
“If you look at it, the budget really is less than a mill because 0.5 of that mill increase (is for) the Board of Education (budget),” Carroll said. “So the (general government) increase is really less than a mill.”
One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. Under a 29.56 tax rate, property taxes on a home assessed at $100,000 are $2,956.
The proposal includes contractual increases, including 2.75% raises for town employees and roughly $100,000 for employee benefits.
The spending plan has other increases including roughly $33,000 for gas, diesel, oil, electricity and telephone, a jump of $15,975 due to a move from in-house animal control services to a regional, third-party contract an increase of $25,000 for an addition of an economic development commission consultant.
Town officials were projected to spend about $363,000 for trash and recycling for the current fiscal year. In the upcoming fiscal year, trash was expected to be at $336,000 and recycling at $140,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.
The proposed capital projects include $162,258 for year two of a five-year lease for a fire engine and tanker; $110,000 for public works project for the Pent Road recreational complex park replacement; and $46,000 for the replacement of a 2004 wastewater treatment plant service truck.
The proposal uses about $196,204 from the fund balance for capital projects. The projected undesignated fund balance as of the end of the current fiscal year is $3.5 million.
First Selectman Gerard Smith said he’s thankful for the support from taxpayers.
“I’m happy that the public understood that we held spending to a minimal and that they understood that we did the best we could for the town of Beacon Falls,” Smith said.