NEW FAIRFIELD – At its regular meeting February 8, the Board of Selectmen discussed its town (municipal) budget proposal and voted to send it to the Board of Finance for review. The BOS held 12 budget workshops over the past couple of months, meeting with all town department heads for input on their budget needs. Services that make up the municipal budget include road maintenance and plowing, senior services, police, fire & EMS, land use, events and activities, and the library. The Board noted that the ongoing uncertainty of the state budget situation continues to be a factor, as it was last year, in determining the municipal budget.
The BOS is proposing a municipal budget of $11,933,018, an increase of $1,021,672, or 9.36% from the previous year. In her review of the proposal, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco acknowledged that the proposed increase is larger than in recent years. Ms. Del Monaco noted that half of the increase was the result of reinstating $500,000 to the Road Repair budget. Due to the uncertainty of state funding last year, the BOS had been forced to eliminate that item from the 2017-2018 budget. Another item of note was a $43,236 increase to Ambulance/Paramedic Services. This will enable complete ambulance and paramedic coverage to Danbury Hospital for all days and shifts.
In the ensuing discussion, Selectman Kim Hanson stated that while he was in agreement with the increase in paramedic and road repair budgets, he voiced concern with an increase in town staffing. While he was in agreement with the rest of the budget, he cited the continuing uncertainty of the state budget, in stating his belief that the majority of the proposed staffing increases were unnecessary.
When put to a vote, the budget proposal was approved 2 to 1, with Mr. Hanson voting against. It will now move to the Board of Finance for review.
The Board also discussed the potential sale of the municipal water system in the center of town to Aquarion. Ms. Del Monaco noted that discussions have been ongoing off and on for the last two years because it is difficult and costly for the Town to maintain the system on its own. The Board will provide further updates as necessary.
The next Board of Selectman meeting will be held Thursday, February 22, 7:30pm.
By Greg Slomba