At special meeting of the Board of Selectmen on February 18, the Board approved its proposed municipal budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year by a two to one margin. The proposed budget will now go 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 BOS is proposing a municipal budget of $13,229,511, an increase of $712,779, or 5.69% from the previous year. In her review of the proposal, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco noted the Consolidated and High School building projects, economic development, public safety, and long-term capital planning as top town priorities.
Under the proposed budget, municipal payroll would increase from 5.41% from $4,524,851 to $4,769,699. Municipal non-payroll would go up 3.95% from $6,572,255 to $6,831,830. Municipal medical insurance would remain flat at $819,260. Municipal debt service is set to decrease from $148,060 to $135,811. Contribution to Cap & Non would rise from $452,306 to $672,911.
In the ensuing discussion, Selectman Kim Hanson objected to the budget increase, saying, “I think salary going up almost 5.5% is not a good thing. I don’t like the idea of spending $70,000 on a sewer study, so I really can’t support this number going forward.”
After the vote, Selectman Khris Hall stated that the municipal budget accounts for roughly 20-25% of the overall budget, with the BOE budget accounting for the rest.
Ms. Del Monaco noted that the annual town budget hearing will be held on Sat., March 7 at 9am in the Community Center. The BOE will present its budget to the BOF at 9am, and the Board of Selectmen will present its budget at around 10:45am.
In other business, the Board reappointed Tom Quigley and Gerry Schwalbe to the Inland Wetlands Commission. Both Mr. Quigley and Mr. Schwalbe are long time members of the committee having served almost 20 years each.
It also voted to appoint George Marginetti to the Permanent Building Committee. Mr. Marginetti is a former committee member who was seeking to return.
Ms. Del Monaco brought forward the case of a New Fairfield veteran who had recently been granted a disability rating from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs retroactive to 2014. She noted that she felt the Board should grant a tax abatement based on this information. However, by state statute an abatement could only be granted retroactively for three years. The total amount of the refund would be $1,095.60. The Board approved the abatement unanimously.
Ms. Hall took the opportunity to mention tax abatements for both veterans and senior citizens. She noted that Town of New Fairfield Assistant Assessor Julie Blick will be attending Selectman Hall’s listening hours on Tuesday, February 25th from 11:45 to 12:30 at the Senior Center to answer any questions about the tax abatement programs.
The next regular BOS meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 27 at 7:30pm.
By Greg Slomba