Fund balance eyed for projects

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The parking lot of Beacon Falls Town Hall is in disrepair. Officials are seeking to use $850,000 from the general fund balance for three projects, including $100,000 to fix the parking lot. –LUKE MARSHALL
The parking lot of Beacon Falls Town Hall is in disrepair. Officials are seeking to use $850,000 from the general fund balance for three projects, including $100,000 to fix the parking lot. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — The town has earmarked $850,000 from the general fund balance for capital expenditures.

A recent audit showed that as of June 30, 2014 the town’s general fund balance stood at $2.15 million. First Selectman Christopher Bielik credited an aggressive plan to collect back taxes for the influx of funds.

The town tries to keep a minimum of 9.5 percent of its operating budget in the general fund balance. The 2014-15 municipal budget is roughly $6.2 million.

“Right now, at $2.15 million, that is 34 percent,” Bielik said. “So we have a significant amount of available funds that will keep us well north of what the required minimum is.”

The Board of Selectmen last week approved using $850,000 from the general fund balance for three areas: fixing the parking lot at Town Hall, replenishing the wastewater treatment plant “rainy day fund” and road repairs.

The largest allocation would be $500,000 to fix roads in town.

“One of the things we need to do is to spend money wisely,” Bielik said. “I think everybody who has been driving roads here recently knows there are some pretty worthy places we can be putting this money.”

The areas around town that are in the greatest need would be addressed first. Bielik said the town’s engineer will evaluate the roads and make recommendations to the board.

“We’ve got a long list of places we can go with that money,” Bielik said.

Bielik said the town has also applied for grants from the Small Town Economic Assistance Program to help with roads. On Monday, officials announced the town will receive a $199,500 grant through the program for work to Highland Avenue. Bielik said this week the town is also seeking a similar-sized grant to repair Beacon Street.

The Town Hall parking lot is in significant disrepair, with the pavement buckling in places. Officials are targeting $100,000 from the fund balance to repair the drainage in the parking lot, which is the underlying cause of the lot’s problems, and repave the lot.

Officials also want to allocate $250,000 to the rainy day fund for the wastewater treatment plant.

At one point years ago, the fund was nearly $1 million, Bielik said. Currently there is approximately $150,000 in the fund.

“As we know the wastewater treatment plant fund has been continually depleted over the years,” Bielik said

The allocation would bring the fund up to about $400,000 to cover unexpected issues at the plant

The Board of Finance also gave its approval to all three allocations last week.

Board of Finance Chairman Jack Levine said the board felt the proposed projects are all needed in town.

“All these are necessary items and the board fully supports them,” Levine said.

The allocations will have to be approved at a town meeting. Bielik hopes to hold the meeting by the end of the month.