The first point of clarification concerns the use of the term “deficit,” which was first used by Deputy Supervisor Raymond O’Conor in the October meeting. (“This is the largest operating deficit in the history of the town since 1818…We are [approximately] $800,000 in the hole, and I find it very concerning that we’re in the red this year and running a deficit.” – Raymond O’Conor)
There has been some contention between other parties and members of the town board about the use of the word “deficit” to describe this situation.
According to Jeffrey Real, the town comptroller, there does in fact appear to be a “deficit for the budget year,” between budgeted appropriations and revenue. The figure, which as of today has been adjusted to $974,000 (accounting for both the general and highway fund), was caused by a transfer of approximately $400,000 from the general fund to balance the 2011 budget, as well as an additional $500,000 (approximate) transfer to purchase a piece of highway equipment and pay for additional salt needed to clean the roads. These transfers led to a gap between what had been appropriated for the 2011 budget and the projected revenue, prompting O’Conor to classify the gap as a deficit.
However, as noted by Councilman Robert Pulsifer, the term “deficit” should not be confused with what is known as a “structural deficit,” which is a deficit that persists year after year after year. The current deficit appears to be of a short-term nature, making it different than, for example, the deficits commonly referred to at the federal level of government.
Also a point of interest: the Town of Wilton has seen a big boost in expected mortgage tax revenues and better than expected returns on sales tax. In the month of September alone, mortgage tax revenue totaled to approximately $108,000 (the average monthly rate is typically somewhere around $40,000). In addition, sales tax revenue in the month of August was up by 18 percent, and increased again the following month by 11 percent.
As such, (while these figures are certainly not set in stone and are subject to change), the town comptroller predicts that the one-year deficit between appropriations and revenue should decrease to somewhere between $550,000 – $600,000 once all revenue is accounted for.