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The ‘S’ Stands For Surplus

To the Editor:

After all that we’ve learned in the last year, many are beginning to think the “S” in BOS stands for Surplus.  

I reject the BOS budget not because I don't support security for our schools. I do. However, as I have stated repeatedly before the Legislative Council (LC), adding additional burden to taxpayers for security costs “just in case” grants do not come through, is a mistake.  Why not remove that amount (now $470K) in the BOS budget, and instead use contingency or fund balance dollars in the unlikely event that grants are not approved?

Within the BOS Budget is $250K of “contingency” – just in case – money. The town also has access to a $8.5M unassigned fund balance, which, our policy states, is for cases of emergency or budget shortfall.  Nearly $1M taxpayer dollars were deposited into this fund last year.

  In addition to security funding that I feel can be safely removed, I’ve expressed concern that even after last year’s $1.3M surplus in the BOS budget, there’s not been adequate questioning from the BOF or the LC on components within the BOS budget. The rigorous analysis of every dime in Newtown's budget seems to be reserved only for the Board of Education budget. You would think that after all the refinancing, idle cash, bond premium, underestimated income, and underestimated interest discovered over the past year in the BOS budget, there would be more questions about components that made up these BOS surpluses, but there hasn't been. 

At the April 30th LC meeting, I listed areas that should be reviewed for reduction or modification.  Areas that could eliminate considerable (over $1M) tax burden relating to the BOS budget.

$470K – Security - Rely on grants, use contingency or fund balance as back up.

$200K – Revenue Projection for Supplemental MV Tax. The mill rate is increasing 30 peprcent regardless of the budget outcome, yet estimated revenue is the same as last year, ($600K).  Is this $200K of new surplus in the making?

$100K - Highway Budget - Specifically the Road Improvement Plan. Perhaps spend a little less ($10-$20K) per street? The budgeted amount is $1M (also, streets listed don't match our Capital Improvement Plan. Why is that?)

$275K From Elderly Tax Relief Increase - Due to revaluation, assessments are down – why increase the $1.2M already in this fund? (everyone should review this program, its origin and goal.)

$100K Other Income - Last year collections exceeded expectations. The market seems strong, the Fund Balance is $1M larger and $50K of the October surplus was due to higher than “expected” earnings on a CD.

$125K Services- Police Department.  – Last year we collected $125K more than we “expected”, contributing to the $1.3M Surplus. Will this repeat this year? Have  we provided more services due to storms and utility work? 

I’ll vote “No”, Not Too Low to the BOS budget.  Providing the LC with opportunity to make adjustments and reductions.

Michele Assante

Wendover Road, Newtown              May 10, 2013

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