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BOF Hears Budget Presentation, Financial Report



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Board of Finance members were given a presentation on the proposed 2023-24 budget, as well as a comprehensive financial report on the 2021-22 budget year, at its February 13 meeting.

Finance Director Bob Tait gave a roughly 20 minute overview of the 2023-24 municipal proposal, which the Board of Selectmen approved January 30. A public hearing was set for February 16, after this week’s print edition of The Newtown Bee went to press.

The finance board was expected to begin a review of the Board of Education budget following the hearing. See follow-up coverage at newtownbee.com and in next week’s print edition.

The total proposed 2023-24 budget when combined with the Board of Education budget is $132,838,316, a $3,812,178 or 2.95 percent increase from the 2022-23 adopted budget of $129,026,038. The proposed 2023-24 municipal budget bottom line is $46,848,647, which is $45,752 less than the 2022-23 adopted budget of $46,891,399, a 0.09 percent reduction.

The municipal side of the budget plan includes debt service on all town capital projects including school district projects.

Before final approval, selectmen made a number of minor reductions to the municipal budget plan, including $40,000 from the Insurance line, and $20,000 from the C.H. Booth Library budget.

The school board’s 2023-24 budget request is $85,990,974, roughly $3,856,335 or a 4.7 percent increase over the 2022-23 budget. The school board made a number of technical adjustments to the superintendent’s budget proposal, but only one budget change was presented: adding four library paraeducator positions back to the budget proposal for $57,836.

The BOF will review the proposals and possibly advise or vote on adjustments before turning the package over to the Legislative Council on March 3. At that point, council committees conduct their own reviews.

Then, the full council receives recommendations, deliberates, and considers any further adjustments to the municipal and school requests. In addition to the February 16 public hearings, the finance board can consider public input before any scheduled budget sessions planned for February 22, 23, and 27.

Finance officials are expected to bring in some department heads to give more detailed presentations of their respective portions of the proposal.

In other Board of Finance news, the board heard Tait present the annual comprehensive financial report for the year ending June 30, 2022. Mahoney Sabol & Company, LLP (MahoneySabol), audited the town’s financial statements as part of the report.

Tait noted that the report showed the town with net positive income, which means “we know the town is moving in the right direction.” He said that every year since he’s started the town has had net positive income.

“That means we’re investing in the town,” said Tait.

Tait noted that revenues exceeded expenses in 2021-22 by “about $1 million,” which will be shifted into the town’s Capital and Non-Recurring Fund. The fund balance increased by $884,917, and currently sits at $17,943,097.

The audited report was expected to be part of the information that will be presented to S&P Global Ratings (formerly Standard & Poor’s) for the town annual credit rating review. Currently the town sits at AAA/Stable, the highest possible rating. The town was expected to learn the outcome of that call by February 17.

In other finance board news, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal told the board that the town has received information on the biannual state budget with extensive analysis from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities “on all the moving parts.”

Rosenthal said that while the state’s Educational Cost Sharing spending is up $91 million, “its a bit of a misnomer since it all seems to be going elsewhere.” Newtown’s ECS funding looks to “be going down a bit” for 2023-24.

The good news, at least for 2023-24, is that the town will be receiving approximately $640K in automotive property tax reimbursement. The reimbursement from the state is to assist towns in the shortfall from the state-mandated cap on auto taxes of 32.46 mills, and in the 2022-23 budget, which the reimbursement will be based on for the 2023-24 budget year, the town’s mill rate was 34.65.

With that and other changes to grants from the state, Newtown will be up roughly $300,000 in state aid over last year in the proposed 2023-24 budget. With revaluation, however, the current proposed mill rate will be 26.55, which in the 2024-25 budget will put the town well below the cap and no longer in a position to receive a reimbursement.

This means the town is looking at going from being up $300,000 in 2023-24 to being down $300,000 in 2024-25.

Rosenthal said the process was “early,” and there may still be “a lot of horse trading,” but that’s where things stand now.

Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

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