From the Desk of the First Selectman,
August is upon us and we are already getting ready to end summer and start fall! My goodness what a quick summer it has been, and a hot one at that!
Let’s talk a bit about the Budget at large. There have been almost 100 meetings held by a variety of boards and committees including but not limited to the Board of Selectmen, Board of Education, Board of Finance, Informational hearings, Special meetings on budget issues, and Town meetings all to talk about both last year’s (17/18 FY) issue in addition to the budget that just ended and the budget we will be voting on during August. A couple of meetings included executive sessions to flesh out legal and personnel concerns relative to actions taken on budget overages.
As you know the school was over budget for FY 17/18 in the amount of $835,000 however (good news here) for FY 18/19 the school was under budget by $50,000. In addition, the operating town side is under budget and we are over in what was anticipated to be received in revenue. We will be decreasing our negative fund balance by around $305,000.
The Town will be voting on a budget that is decreased by $80,000 with the mill rate remaining at 34.75 (a 1.5 mill increase from last year). This was incorporated into the tax bills that went out in July.
The Town is receiving funds from the MARB which will assist us in paying off the overage in school bills from FY 17/18. We will receive $500,000 in August and will have another $400,000 in abeyance should it be necessary to assist us in cash flow. This is a loan that will be paid after we stabilize our fund balance. We have already paid off almost $400,000 of the overage from FY17/18 the funds from MARB will pay off all back bills from the school overage. The Town is required to pay off these old bills from the school. The Town is working to hold those accountable for these overages through legal measures.
The Board of Education has been working to address the past overages and still bring back programs for children. They monitored the FY 18/19 budget allowing it to come in under budget as often happened in the past. As a matter of fact, out of the last twelve years only twice was the school budget over expended. They have collaborated with the Town to return the library to a functioning well stocked pleasant environment (this is being paid for by the operating town budget). The public works crew will be installing a new piece of equipment in the school playground, there will be “zen dens” established in the school to give a quiet space for students (a painting party will be held to help out build these out see the Board of Education website), white boards have been donated and the town will assist in getting them wired, the resident trooper will be conducting a DARE program for 5th and 6th grade (this is being paid for by the operating town budget), a professor from UCONN will help out with a STEM program, and grants are being applied for to bring in after school programs. Phew, there is so much going on! Special thanks to the Board of Education for working together with the Town to figure this all out!
In addition to the above work the Town’s grant writer has been working to assist the school in a roof, elevator, doors and alarm system capital project. This is funded by a state grant and bonded dollars. It is incorporated into the budget. Hopefully this goes out to bid soon. In addition, there are computers and other electronic equipment for the school in the bonded projects in the budget.
There are two roads of the five remaining necessary to be completed roads in this budget along with public safety equipment for the fire department, a generator for the transfer station, a boiler for the grist mill, a purchase of property adjoining the Baltic Mill site and a minor start on repairs necessary for the Hanover Dam.
A positive piece of news is that we are preparing documents to sell/lease two pieces of the old papermill property for approximately $360,000 to two interested parties. These pieces include approximately 56 acres leaving us with more than 350 acres available to market. This sale/lease will bring in approximately 125 jobs, tax revenue and incorporate $360,000 in additional unanticipated revenue for FY 19/20.
There will be more good news coming soon which will be in future Our Town articles I leave you with a little snippet of only the facts! In 2007/2008 the budget for the operating side of the town was $2,003,055 and in this 2019/2020 budget it is $2,012,986 an increase in 12 years of $9,931. The school side of the budget was $5,731,635 in the 2007/2008 budget and in this budget is $6,525,766 for todays budget an increase of $794,131. We continue to work to bring in a fiscally responsible budget.
This budget includes many hard decisions most of them unpopular. It pays all bills and moves us in the direction of a positive fund balance.
As always thanks for your support I am looking under every stone to address this situation.
First Selectman since 2007
The Administrative Office of The First Selectman has direct responsibility for oversight and management of the following functions:
Also has indirect oversight of Health and Emergency Medical Services.
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