The current budget season hits full stride at 9:00am this Saturday, March 2 with the annual public budget hearing. The Board of Selectmen will present its municipal budget proposal and the Board of Education its education budget proposal to the Board of Finance. The budget process actually began before the turn of the year, with the BOS holding departmental budget open houses and the BOE developing its proposed budget over the past several months.
The proposed municipal budget, which was approved by the Board of Selectmen at its February 14 meeting, includes services such as 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 $12,126,441, an increase of $784,007, or 6.47% from the previous year. In her review of the proposal, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco noted school safety, capital and non-recurring costs, and Public Works staffing as needs contributing to the increase.
The Board of Education is proposing a $43,223,110 budget. This represents an increase of $402,456, or 0.94% over the previous fiscal year (2018-19). While the operating portion of the proposed budget would increase spending $691,718, cuts in the amount of $289,262 to the non-operating budget would offset that somewhat.
Proposed increases include both regular and special education programs. Cuts would be made in capital expenditures and a reworking of the debt service for the district. Overall, the district would stand to lose the equivalent of 3.05 full time employees under the proposed budget.
Saturday’s budget hearings will provide an opportunity for discussion of both proposed budgets between the BOF, BOS and BOE. The public will also be given the opportunity to comment on each budget. From there, the BOF will discuss both budgets and make its recommendation for changes over the course of several meetings during the month of March.
The Public Budget Hearings will be held Saturday, March 2 at 9:00am in the Community Center on Route 37.
By Greg Slomba