Although an annual audit revealed the town doubled its operating surplus for fiscal year 2011-2012, town officials remain cautious concerning the specific use of the funds, which amounted to $1.68 million.
“It is partly more revenues than were expected; partly, expenditures were less,” said . late last week of the reason for the surplus funds. He said fully half the surplus came from the state in a manufacturing equipment and machinery grant that the town had thought would be eliminated. Otherwise, he said, the surplus came from a variety of sources.
The sum, which he said has the capacity to offset taxes, is presently in the general fund, the Mayor said.
The town’s budget for 2011-2012 was $141,448,848. Blum Shapiro of West Hartford completed the audit.
“I assume that’s very good for them,” said Kevin Maloney, speaking for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. He noted that Wallingford,
whose population CCM lists at just over 45,000, is not a small town by
Connecticut standards — that by population it probably ranks in the top 20 towns in the state.
Regarding the use for a municipality's surplus funds, Maloney said any time a town could put money aside in its municipal fund balance constituted good financial management. Ideally, he said, a town tries to maintain a municipal fund balance of eight to 10 percent of its operating budget to preserve its credit rating.
Wallingford has a Triple-A credit rating from Moody’s — one, according to Wallingford’s Comptroller James Bowes, of perhaps 10-12 municipalities in the state to carry the credit rating agency’s highest rank. He said that Wallingford was, to his knowledge, the only middle-class municipality in the state to hold it. The others he termed "wealthier" communities.
Bowes said that, as of the June 30, 2012 end of the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the municipal fund balance in Wallingford stood at eight percent.
Bowes said that in the year prior to FY 2011-2012 the town ran a deficit in its operating budget of $400,000. He said the surplus the town has announced for FY 2011-2012 was due in part to the mild winter.
“It’s rare,” he said of the size of the surplus. He noted that, if the town
shows a surplus, “We’re always about half-a-million surplus.” He said that, in the event of a deficit, the town usually shows a deficit of about “a couple hundred thousand dollars.”
Bowes said the town builds its budget each year from the ground up. He said the town bases its initial projection of one revenue component — this, state aid — from the Governor’s budget, which comes out in early to mid-February. The town will adjust sums in the budget the Mayor presents if either the Governor or General Assembly indicates that any significant changes in state aid will occur.
In Wallingford, Mayor Dickinson, Jr. presents his budget April 1.
As to where the surplus will ultimately go, the Mayor indicated any projections would be premature. He said the town does not yet know the amount of its grand list nor does it know the total it will receive in state and federal monies.
“All of it is very much in the air,” he said.