Middlebury surplus vanishes

MIDDLEBURY — New scrutiny of Middlebury’s financial records reveals that the town does not possess a $1.5 million surplus as previously announced by local officials in late January.
Middlebury town Treasurer Jackie Sullivan and CPA Thomas Telling, who recently audited the town’s books, had previously forecast the $1.5 million fund balance. The surplus money, they explained, had accrued from various capital improvement projects dating back to 2007 that had been completed under-budget, but had not been closed out. This accounting lapse apparently transpired over several fiscal years.
But further inspection of the town’s books — by Telling and another independent party — has revealed that the $1.5 million fund balance that was credited to the general fund should have been credited to ongoing projects in the  water and sewer funds, according to Middlebury Assistant Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay.
Telling and Ramsay stressed that all town funds are accounted for and that there has been no misappropriation of funds.
But the bottom line is, Middlebury will not have an extra $1.5 million to either return to taxpayers or earmark for local projects, as had been predicted earlier.
Middlebury Town Manager Bill Finger said Middlebury’s general fund balance currently stands at around $571,000 — though only $240,000 of that is “unassigned.” That figure is less than the 5 percent of the total budget that towns should maintain in unreserved fund balance, according to Finger.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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