Town budget on track to end in surplus
While a lot can change from now until the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the town budget is projected to finish in the black.
Chief Financial Officer Anne Kelly-Lenz recently told the Board of Finance the forecast calls for an approximate $166,528 in surplus funds for the town-side of the budget.
The savings come primarily from unexpended salaries for 10 open town employee positions which were open at the beginning of the fiscal year. All but two of those positions have since been filled, Kelly-Lenz said. In addition, a part-time social services youth coordinator position is still open.
The budget surplus has been able to cover a number of unexpected expenses. An additional $40,000 has been added for legal services, which was initially budgeted for $174,800. The increase is due to the ongoing issue with Aquarion’s water diversion application with the state.
There was an increase in overtime expenses (approximately $70,000) in the fire department, due to the retirement of Capt. Jim Gies. The vacancy in the department has since been filled.
There was also an additional $60,000 expense for repairs to a leaky roof in the town clerk’s office.
Some revenue sources have also been down this year. Real property conveyance taxes are down by 10% from last year as are recording fees, due to sluggish real estate sales.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice gave a revaluation update. While the preliminary grand list numbers won’t be released until Feb. 28, she said residential real estate is down, with south Wilton appearing stronger than north Wilton in average sale prices.
The town is currently going through informal assessment hearings with property owners so there are no final numbers at this time, she said. “I will say, residential is down more than commercial is up. The bottom line is the grand list is going to be lower,” she said.
Looking ahead, there may be a couple more ways for the town to save some money. Vanderslice said she would like to do a study to see if it is possible to join with the town of Weston to share transfer station costs.
As employee medical costs continue to grow, the town is looking into the possibility of joining the state’s medical plan which Greenwich has already done. “There would be immediate savings but it needs to be analyzed,” Vanderslice said. In addition, WestCOG has issued an RFP (Request for Proposal) to see if someone can develop a regional medical plan, she said.