2.6% of Last Year’s Town Operating Budget Not SpentMarch 28, 2014 by Barbara O’Brien
Financial Director and Assistant Town Administrator Dana Call has reported that approximately 2.6 percent of the approved total town operating budget for 2013 was not spent. This amounts to $336,871 out of a total town operating budget of $11,916,516. The unexpended funds are available toward the 2013 year-end fund balance and, once audited, could be used to offset the 2014 tax rate.
Call said that the largest component of savings was in the highway department, as a result of unexpended winter maintenance/materials, totaling about $65,000; plus unexpended summer (paving) projects, totaling about $75,000. In addition, Call said, the solid waste management budget realized savings in salaries and benefits, due to the retirement of a full-time employee, who was not immediately replaced. $21,000 was also saved in the administration portion of the town budget, due to a delay in the anticipated stormwater management program. Lastly, according to Call, taxpayers realized a savings of approximately $32,000 in the general insurance line, due to a return of surplus funds from the town’s Workers’ Compensation Program.
Departments which had expenditures over their budgeted amounts were general government and the fire department. Call explained that these departments, as well as administration and the police department, had salary and benefit expenditures exceeding those which were anticipated, due to the town’s buyout of accumulated earned time balances this past year, for both active and retired employees; an amount that totaled approximately $200,000.
As for incoming revenue, Call said those amounts came in about $229,000 (4.7%) higher than originally anticipated. Those funds also count toward the 2013 fund balance and, once audited, could be used to offset the 2014 tax rate.
Call also said that Windham continues to benefit from state and federal grants and other such funding. For 2013, Windham was reimbursed by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) in the amount of $37,412, received a State of New Hampshire Emergency Management grant of $3,480 (to cover 50% of replacing the fire department’s pagers), as well as $8,864 from the State of New Hampshire for 100 percent of equipment for the Windham Police Department.
Other general revenue, such as motor vehicle registrations, building permits and interest on delinquent taxes came in higher than was anticipated when the 2013 tax rate was set this past October. From 2010 through 2012, motor vehicle registrations came in about $2,659,000, while for 2013; the actual amount was $2,972,391. Average building permit revenues for 2010 through 2012 amounted to $160,000 per year, while the actual total collected during 2013 was $192,741.
During 2013, Windham made its final payment on a two-year bond to pay for a new fire engine. In addition, Windham made its final payment on a 10-year $100,000 bond to renovate Searles School and Chapel; a project which was fully funded through rental income from the operation of the building and not by taxpayers. Since that time, Windham has entered into several lease/purchase agreements for police, fire, highway and transfer station vehicles and equipment, the principal and interest payments for which are included in the annual operating budget. However, Windham had no outstanding long-term municipal debt as of December 31, 2013.