‘Uncertainty’ reigns for local budgets

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

“Uncertainty” is the buzz word this season as local governments are preparing their budgets for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

Connecticut’s current financial crisis and the recently announced mid-year cuts from the capitol are key factors under consideration when allocating the new budget.

City Comptroller Glenn Klocko presented the revenue and expense report during the joint board meeting on Jan. 10, revealing that the city is in good shape for the current year, including a $4.4 million surplus in the fund balance.

He said the surplus was the product of three major elements: An “excellent tax collection rate” of over 98 percent, $1.1 million of unbudgeted revenue, and $400,000 more in building permits, specifically from the PODS location in the Southeast Industrial Park.

Governor Dannel Malloy’s office announced a $250,000 cut (of the $599,000 that Bristol received) from the alliance grant, which will directly affect the Board of Education. That money is intended for job salaries in the district, and with the reduction, the board will have to compensate somehow.

“We thought it was going to affect us on the city side, but the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities has told us that it is on the education side,” Klocko said during his report. “No matter what side it is, it’s always an unfortunate circumstance to have midyear reductions.”

Malloy’s office also announced a freeze on the Local Capital Improvement Program (LoCIP) grants last month, another unexpected cut in the middle of the fiscal year. However, Klocko said that Bristol got its grant projects approved back in October, receiving $600,000. “That’s because of good management,” the comptroller said. CCM officials released a statement on Dec. 30 regarding the mid-year cuts in aid, stating, “The state must develop state budgets that do not make for these late December mid-year cuts that harm property taxpayers. CCM continues to urge the state to develop collaborative approaches to balancing the state budget and providing services to our residents.”

The freeze did not negatively impact the city this year, but moving forward, no one knows when it will be lifted. “We’re waiting to see what Gov. Malloy says on Feb. 8,” Klocko said, referring to the governor’s budget that will be released.

Moving forward, the boards and commissions have their work cut out for them when preparing the new budget. The LoCIP funding is expected to hinder the process if the freeze isn’t lifted in time for the new fiscal year.

Comments? Email jcardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.