Town officials recently received approval to reallocate excess funds to balance out various municipal department budgets, all while still closing out the fiscal year with a nearly $500,000 budgetary surplus.
On Aug. 13, Town Councilors supported a list of general fund transfers totaling $102,000 requested by Town Manager Sean Kimball. The transfers were necessary to keep Town departments within their allotted budgets for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
In a memo to the Council, Kimball wrote that the Town Charter requires the Council approve budget transfers by Aug. 31 of the following fiscal year. The Council is able to “transfer any unencumbered appropriation balance or portions thereof from one department, commission, board or office to another upon request by the Town Manager to ensure expenditures have not exceeded appropriations in any department.”
Over the past five years, the average transfer amount requested by the Town Manager has been $161,570. This year’s request was less than one-tenth of a percent of the Town’s $111.2 million operating budget.
To offset the variances, Finance Director James Jaskot suggested using the Town’s contingency account, which is supplemented annually with $125,000. Doing so will prevent Jaskot from tapping into Town departments with favorable variances in their budgets.
“We came in much better than we were projecting just a few months ago when we were doing the budget process,” explained Jaskot.
Expenditures totaled $452,695, which Jaskot said was “overall positive.”
“These were just a few departments that happened to go over, and there was good reason,” Jaskot said.
Some of the budget transfers included covering recent retirements of administrative assistants at the Cheshire Fire Department and Town Building Department, which resulted in a payout of approximately $16,000. The Town Council had also hired a consultant for $26,000 to assist the Town in acquiring a new emergency services contract with an ambulance provider.
“Just recently in June, I asked for additional money for the pool operation because we projected our pool expenditures were going to go over because our utilities were under budget, and that did come to fruition,” reflected Jaskot.
Another $24,000 will be transferred into the Recreation Department’s budget to cover the pool expenses, Jaskot continued. Despite some overages, the facility did set a record this year.
“We did end up having a really good June,” Jaskot said. “I was very pleased on the revenue side, I was a little nervous because June is a big month, but it ended up being very robust.”
In total, the pool ended the fiscal year with $613,000 in revenues.
“I don’t think we ever broke $600,000, ever, at the pool,” he said.