First Selectman Mike Tetreau is pleased to announce that the Town’s Finance Department has reported that the Town’s Fiscal Year 2017 surplus is higher than previously anticipated due to strong fourth quarter results realized from expense holdbacks and controls, including a hiring freeze, a higher than budgeted tax collection rate, and strong fourth quarter investment returns and fee revenues.
First Selectman Tetreau said, “After review of the year-end financial results and careful consideration of the demand to keep the library open, I am pleased the Town has surplus funds available that could be used to fill the open positions and reinstate library hours, although it will take time to hire the required staff positions that have been on hold. We anticipate being able to do so and revert back to the former hours this Fall.”
The recent reduction in library hours was made because of the potential loss of state funds which the Town is still anticipating. However, the surplus could be used to supplement next year’s budget should the Board of Finance choose to carry forward the Fiscal Year 2017 surplus to Fiscal Year 2018, which would serve to mitigate some of the loss of state revenue. Last September, at the suggestion of Board of Finance Chair Tom Flynn, the Board of Finance voted to carry forward a significant portion of the Fiscal Year 2016 surplus into Fiscal Year 2017 to mitigate some of Fiscal Year 2017 loss of state funds.
In addition to the Town filling some of the vacant positions at the library, the Town would also be able to fill two positions that have been on hold at the Parks and Recreation Department. The decision to use a portion of the surplus to fill vacancies at two of the town’s largest departments is because they were the most affected by the Town’s response to prepare for state budget cuts. Their services also have a great impact on the public; without adequate staff, services and programs are disrupted.
Except for the Library and Recreation departments, the Town’s strategic hiring freeze remains in effect going forward. The Department of Public Works, Health, Conservation and other departments are still impacted by the hiring freeze. Targeted capital spending, including paving, is still on hold.