Naugatuck has budget surplus thanks to tax revenue

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NAUGATUCK — The borough ended the fiscal year with a small surplus, according to figures Controller Wayne McAllister presented Tuesday to the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses.

Municipal departments and the Board of Education combined had $780,000 left over, or about 1 percent of the budget, after the fiscal year ended, primarily thanks to tax revenues that came in higher than expected.

The borough collected about $879,000 more in property taxes than officials had budgeted.

“We’re fortunate that it was higher,” Mayor Robert A. Mezzo said. “We budget on multi-year averages and have always budgeted conservatively on tax collection rates, even more so in this economy.”

The borough also won about $300,000 from a settlement with Middlebury to share costs for the water treatment plant, which is located in the borough and serves both towns.

The police department came in $322,000 under budget, largely due to overtime management, Mezzo said. The school system came in with a $31,000 surplus.

Certain accounts did run over budget, but the joint boards Tuesday approved McAllister’s plans to balance them using the borough’s $350,000 contingency fund and surplus money from other accounts. The $780,000 left over after the accounts were reconciled will be placed in the reserve account, Mezzo said.

Snow removal costs from last winter’s storms caused the biggest overrun. The street department spent about $740,000 more than expected on contractors and overtime, including about $35,000 to bring in Connecticut National Guard personnel to shovel snow off school roofs, McAllister said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has said it will reimburse storm-related costs incurred in a three-day window during the biggest storm in February, but the borough has not received any money, Mezzo said. The borough incurred most of its snow removal costs, including the National Guard, outside of that window.

“We are hoping to get a fraction of the costs reimbursed, if anything,” Mezzo said.

The joint boards also approved a $4,650 transfer from this fiscal year’s contingency fund to buy unlimited emergency minutes from the Code Red notification system, after the borough ran out of minutes during Hurricane Irene.

Fire Chief Ken Hanks and W. Francis Dambowsky, the borough’s head of emergency management, said the borough could incur high overage charges if the contract was not upgraded.

“If we have another winter like we had last year, we’re going to be in trouble,” Hanks said.