Net assets contribute to town’s financial strength

Wilton’s “continuing high level of net assets contributes to the town’s financial strength,” according to the town’s year-end status report, which Chief Financial Officer Sandy Dennies presented to the Board of Finance during its Dec. 22 meeting.

According to the report, the town’s net assets in fiscal year 2014 decreased by 1.6%, or $2,166,011, $302,016 of which was due to Water Pollution Control Authority and transfer station activities.

The town’s net assets exceeded its liabilities on June 30, the closing of the fiscal year, by $127,802,989, and of this amount, the report states, $34,272,262 of unrestricted net assets “may be used to meet the town’s ongoing obligations.”

The town’s governmental funds had a combined ending fund balance of $26,962,506 — a decrease of $1,273,779 from the prior fiscal year-end period.

Revenues

According to the report, revenues of governmental activities exceeded expenses by $1.783 million.

More than 84% of Wilton’s governmental activity revenue this year was derived from property taxes, which saw an increase of 2.2%.

Grants and contributions accounted for 11% of that revenue, fees accounted for 4.3% and interest and other miscellaneous revenues accounted for less than 1%, according to the report.

With a 25.99 mill rate, Wilton’s property tax revenue increased by 2.2% this year, and the grand list decreased 17.1%. According to the report, “the mill rate and the grand list were impacted due to the grand list of October that was a revaluation year.”

The $207,818 interest income in the town’s general fund was greater than budgeted by $67,818. The town invested in secure mortgage-backed securities with an average life of up to four years, which not only “offered higher returns than interest-bearing bank accounts,” according to the report,” but yielded greater returns than expected during fiscal year 2014.

The town also invested in certificates of deposit “with maturities laddered from one to three years,” according to the report.

An unrealized loss of $9,999 was recorded on the mortgage-backed securities and deposit certificates, according to the report, and the town “intends to hold these investments to maturity so there will be no loss of principal to the town.”

Revenue from service charges were greater than budgeted by $424,742. According to the report, town clerk fees brought in $335,270, primarily from conveyance taxes, which brought in $267,049, and $54,968 in building permits.

The town’s intergovernmental revenue was also higher than budgeted — by $716,513, according to the report.

Expenses

Despite an “austere budget,” savings were achieved in the Board of Education and Board of Selectmen budgets, according to the report.

The Board of Education under-expended its budget by $699,445 and the Board of Selectmen’s operating budget was under-expended by $2,788,324.

The town’s general government savings amounted to $620,086, including a savings in human resources costs due to lower legal costs for personnel-related issues, the report says.

The first selectman’s and information systems costs were lower than budgeted,  according to the report, due to “budgeted out but unfilled positions.”

The report also noted that capital outlay was under-expended by $566,597, but $480,788 has been carried forward to fiscal year 2015 under the Town Charter.

The town saved $1,162,372 because it did not use any of the additional appropriations that were budgeted.