Finance Board and Town Council restore some funding

Money 1By TAYLOR HARTZ
STAFF WRITER

The Board of Finance (BOF) held a special meeting on June 21, where they voted to restore funding that had been cut in the town budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016-2017. The board unanimously approved the restoration of more than $400,000 in funding for the general town government and Board of Education (BOE) budgets.

BOF Chairman John Leary said the board is still trying to anticipate how Southington will be affected by state level cuts, while providing the necessary funding for the town and BOE to move forward this year.

“The Town Council made significant cuts and we are restoring a significant portion of it, but not all of it, because there is still uncertainty about the state,” said Leary. He explained that while the board is aware that the state has made a $20 million cut in funding to municipalities, they are still unaware of where the cuts will hit.

Leary said the board was restoring funds cut by the council in May, “when we thought the cuts would be much deeper.”

Five appropriations were approved unanimously.

The council held a special meeting the following day to approve these appropriations, which include $525, 917 in Board of Education operations funding, $371, 454 in the capital budget for a fire truck, $200,000 for regular wages for the Southington Police Department, $50,000 for highway overtime, and a $58,209 contingency.

The funding is being appropriated with revenues to match, so there will be no effect on the mill rate.

On June 21, the BOF also approved the Tax Collector’s Tax Suspense List, and made several funding transfers and appropriations as part of an annual exercise called “harvesting,” said Town Manager Garry Brumback.

Leary referred to 16 transfers and appropriations as “year end geography,” where the BOF transfers funds to closeout the fiscal year.

Essentially, the board moved money left over from the 2015-2016 FY budget to spending needed in the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget. The 16 proposed transfers were approved 6-0, they included funds transferred to parks renovations, repair and replacement of sidewalks, and information and technology hardware that the town can pay for with cash, rather than bonded funds.

Overall, the board utilized $1.7 million for the capital improvement program, and $85,000 for the heritage fund. Brumback said that due to responsible and frugal financial management, the town met their harvesting goal.

“This is our annual commitment to this board, in return for funding us what we feel is appropriate,” said Brumback. “If we do generate any extra revenue, we apply it directly to offset some of the expenses associated with the capital plan.”

In an assessment of the financial state of the town, Director of Finance Emilia Portelinha reported that the town utilized most budget overages, and she does not anticipate large shortages anywhere in the budget.

During a Town Council meeting on June 27, Brumback informed the council that Southington’s “revenues and expenses tracked fairly well.”

During the council meeting, Councilor Tom Lombardi (R) said he was happy to hear that “we are able to harvest that money and they’re not just spending it on things they don’t need,” and thanked the BOF and department heads for their work on the budget.

The BOF was also celebrated by the Government Finance Officers Association, in Chicago, Ill., for the 25th annual year. Portelinha has been given a Certificate of Achievement in Excellence in Financial Reporting.

“To us as a board and to the citizens of Southington, this should mean that we’re doing things, we’re working hard, and we’re doing them right,” said Leary.

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