Board Of Finance Approves Edits To Fund Balance, Non-Lapsing … – The Newtown Bee

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Two policies are almost ending the long road of deliberations by the Board of Finance — the Policy on Outside Agency Request for Funds and the Non-Lapsing Education Fund policy.
At its March 23 meeting, the finance board approved final edits and, according to Chairman John Madzula, are expected to approve both policies at its next meeting on April 10.
“These two policies are really getting back to the roots of the Board of Finance following the voters deciding to keep the board,” Madzula told The Newtown Bee on March 29. “That’s policy drafting decisions. Making policy is what the board is all about.”
The non-lapsing education fund policy is a revision to a policy started more than a decade ago and revised in 2014. In December 2022, Board of Education Chairman Deborra Zukowski noted that the Board of Selectmen and the Legislative Council had both signed off on the new policy, but the Board of Finance never had, possibly due to the changeover of members following the election, according to Madzula.
Madzula said that with the non-lapsing policy, the finance board has primarily been “finessing the language,” as well as giving the board an opportunity — if they get a transfer request for the non-lapsing fund early following the books being closed out — to review and pass any possible transfer on their own without attending a joint meeting called for by the policy in September.
“We’re streamlining the policy,” Madzula said.
The journey for the outside agency policy began during the 2022 budget year when the Legislative Council questioned the fund balance being held by the Lake Authority agencies and the C.H. Booth Library.
The council in April 2021 decided to keep the budgets for both the library and Lake Authorities flat from the previous year, meaning that budget increases requested from both agencies were denied. The money for the Lake Authorities was later restored as state statute deems that the town’s portion of the authorities’ budget is an “assessment” to the town and not a request of the town that can be cut.
In the Lake Authorities case, the requested increase was due to increased traffic on the lakes and for capital projects, but councilmen felt the authorities had enough to cover capital projects with its fund balance. The library was also maintaining a fund balance of approximately $800,000, and with extensive capital projects coming up that the town’s paying for, the council felt that a budget increase was unnecessary.
In the 2022-23 budget, the town made contributions to a number of outside agencies that serve the community.
Among them, $53,735 to Lake Authorities; $196,884 to Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers; $303,000 to Newtown Youth & Family Services; $143,000 to Children’s Adventure Center; and $1,381,469 to C.H. Booth Library. Another $1,132,000 was distributed to the town’s five fire companies; $270,000 to Newtown Ambulance; and approximately $10,000 to Newtown Underwater Search and Rescue.
Early on in the policy-making process, BOF member Sandy Roussas said that whatever the board put together, it was important to “not aim it at one group, but to aim it at all the groups.” Several board members expressed concerns about a policy that might make an outside agency feel that it was being singled out for enhanced scrutiny while other agencies were not.
According to the policy, “the purpose of this policy is twofold. First, the policy ensures transparency and accountability for public funds contributed to outside agencies through the budget process. Second, outside agencies requesting public funds must demonstrate financial need and use the funds to benefit the citizens of Newtown.”
The goal was to have a policy that would determine at what point a fund balance should trigger a review by the town’s fiscal review authorities, so that groups did not feel like they were being unfairly singled out.
The policy as it currently stands sets that at ten percent of the agency’s total budget or $50,000, whichever is greater.
Affected agencies include Regional Hospice, Women’s Center of Danbury, Ability Beyond Disability, United Way of Western Connecticut, Newtown Parent Connection, Kevin’s Community Center, Lake Authorities, Newtown Underwater Search & Rescue, Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Association, Newtown Youth & Family Services, Children’s Adventure Center, the library, and Edmond Town Hall.
Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at
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