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Town Council Offers Alternative for BOE Surplus

The council suggested spending any BOE surplus returned to the town after June 30 on Technology Task Force projects that would benefit both the school district and town.

In an effort to build trust and cooperation, the town council invited the Board of Education to return to the town a portion of its projected $531,684 budget surplus at its Tuesday night meeting, with an offer to designate the funds to Technology Task Force projects that would benefit both the school district and town.

Any 2011-2012 budget money that the board does not allocate by June 30 is automatically returned to the town's control. The board is scheduled to meet and finalize the budget on Wednesday, June 27.

"There has been a great reluctance on the part of councils to give any money back to the BOE above that which has been approved as part of the budget referendum process," Town Manager Steven Werbner said.

This, he said, has commonly resulted in the school board allocating all of its surplus before the June deadline arrives.

Superintendent William Guzman at the last school board meeting, which includes the addition of a computer teacher at and the lowering of pay-to-participate fees.

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However, council member Mark Gill worried that if the surplus is spent on recurring expenses (such as salaries) then the town's budget process will only become more difficult next year if town revenue levels cannot support the increase.

"A lot of the suggestions may make sense," he said. "But some of this is short-term windfall, and a large percentage of spending is recurring spending."

A significant portion of the school district budget surplus was due to unexpectedly large utility and health insurance savings, courtesy of a warm winter, HSA plan savings and a town-wide switch to a .

At the , the surplus was described as a way to meet the gap between the school board's and the 3 percent increase that was .

The council's proposed funding alternative, to give the surplus money to Technology Task Force projects, would ensure that the money would benefit both school district and town needs, as well as be a non-recurring expense, the council said.

BOE Chair Andy Powell and council member Josh Freeman co-chair the committee, which is investigating how to best streamline and update Tolland's technology needs in schools and town-wide.

Improvements to the school's technology system are likely crucial, will be integrated into Tolland schools as early as 2014.

The council decided to convey its invitation to Powell, who could present it to BOE members at the Wednesday meeting.

The council also set a public hearing on a proposed $1,153,600 in bonding to fund capital projects approved in the 2012-2013 budget. A description of the projects and their costs are listed in the council agenda.

Mark Gill June 27, 2012 at 02:05 PM
I wanted to take a moment to try to clarify some points from the above article. At the last BOE Meeting $850,000 was identified in available funds/budget adjustments for next year. The total included: $530,000 in “End of Year Balance” $40,000 from the Taxpayer Relief Grant $70,000 in savings due to our Self Insurance Health Care $24,000 in anticipated “unpaid leave savings” $54,000 in net savings due to a personnel change (Math Dept) $139,000 in net additional Healthcare savings due to enrollment changes in the Health Savings Account (H.S.A.). It is anticipated that the BOE would use $567,000 of these funds to cover the “funding gap” between the BOE requested spending increase of $1,567,000 (4.64%) vs. the town approved BOE budget increase of $1,000,000(3%). After adjustments to next year’s budget (slight increases in Diesel cost and fuel oil of $20,000), an amount of $270,000 remains to be allocated. As the BOE spending priorities are set for these funds, the Technology Infrastructure of the town and BOE should be considered as we search for ways to utilize technology advancements to lower our operating costs across the district.
marie cohen June 27, 2012 at 07:59 PM
So the BOE is getting everything it originally asked for without approval at referendum. Sounds like government by Executive Order on a local basis. We don't really need to involve taxpayers and voters in this charade, do we? Despite the fact that student enrollment is declining the schools were given a hefty increase, and now nearly all the savings goes straight back into their budget instead of being returned to overburdened taxpayers. Amazing. And next year they'll use the newly inflated FY2013 figures as a baseline for comparison to next year's 2014 wish list, of that you can be sure. Smoke, mirrors, and all the usual go-along get-along suspects. Taxpayers also have a "funding gap!" Last one outta here turn off the swell new geothermal heating and compact fluorescents and LEDs, please!
Steve Lambert June 29, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Thank you Tolland patch for making the unexpected "surplus" of Guzman and the BOE transparent for all to see. Hopefully we will remember the "miraculous" discovery of over 500k in savings after the fact next year so that we can appropriately adjust the BOE request via referendum. Unfortunately, we all seem to have short memories. At least that's what The BOE is counting on.

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