Seymour juggles funds in ‘clean-up’
  Jean Falbo-Sosnovich, Register Correspondent   August 10, 2000

SEYMOUR — The Board of Selectmen voted Wednesday to "clean up the town books" by transferring $534,050 from the general fund into a contingency reserve fund.

The issue was supposed to go before voters at a town meeting, but only 19 people showed up at Town Hall for the meeting.  So selectmen exercised their right to act in lieu of a lack of quorum. 

Under town charter at least 50 residents are needed to form a quorum at a town meeting. 

The $534,050 from the general fund comes from $800,000 raised when the town refinanced three fire trucks in March.  The trucks were sold to a Florida company, and the town is leasing them back over a seven-year period. 

The transfers unanimously passed by the selectmen included $140,792 to sanitation, $88,000 to town counsel professional services and $202,698 to employee benefits.  The transfers were done in an effort to balance the town’s budget books, and were the result of underestimated budget items from the previous administration. 

"This was really just an accounting measure to clean up our books," said Republican First Selectman Scott Barton.  "We could have let it fall, but it would’ve been a further scar on the town of Seymour...(by approving the transfers) this gives us a fresh start on our books and a fresh start for the town." 

Had the transfers not been made, Barton said the large deficit items in the individual accounts would have "forever been on the town audit," and officials instead opted to wipe that slate clean.  Officials discovered last year that the town had gone from a $4.5-million surplus to a $186,000 deficit, and was facing a financial nightmare of being $3.5 million in debtA special tax of 3.5 mills was issued earlier this year to help erase the debt. 

"We had to clean up the ills of the previous administration," said Board of Finance member Bill Kovacs, referring to the Democratic regime of former First Selectman John O’Toole.  "This was done to let townspeople know that we’re not the previous administration and we’re not out to screw anybody ... we just want the town to get back on its feet." 

O’Toole has denied his administration had anything to do with the mismanagement of town’s financial problems.  An audit is due soon, which officials hope will explain the cause of the financial crisis.