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First Selectman's Proposed Municipal Budget Shows 1.9% Increase

The $731,155 increase from last year includes a 1.7% wage increase and increased capital funds for some departments, especially the Highway Department.

 

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra proposed a $38.5 million dollar Board of Selectmen budget at Monday night's meeting. That's a $731,155, or 1.9%, increase. And Llodra said she wishes it could have been more.

"Our departments have made an extraordinary effort to keep their costs flat," said Llodra. "If it weren't for the 1.7% general wage increase, which was really modest -- and I'd like to provide much more than that -- you would really see no increase."

By the numbers, many departments -- including those approved by Selectmen Monday night -- saw the the 1.7% raise as the most major change in their budgets. (On Monday, Selectmen approved general government budgets, Land Use and the town's contingency fund.) But the more difficult increases to approve could come at Tuesday's meeting, in which the board will discuss the departments of Public Safety, Public Works and the capital non-recurring fund.

"Those discussions are not nearly as fluid as what we discussed tonight," said Llodra.

Across the budget, capital accounts represents the largest increase -- in Public Works especially. A $152,000 bump up in the Highway Department's capital budget is the single largest increase the First Selectman's office is asking for.

The primary areas of increase, according to the First Selectman's office, are:

  • Wages and Salaries: a $165,492 increase to account for a 1.7% yearly wage increase for employees. According to the report, the increase also includes salary enhancements for non-union personnel who have been "seriously undercompensated."
  • Fringe Benefts, including Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Long-Term Disability, Pension and Social Security: a $104,724 increase.
  • Operating Expenses -- primarily in areas like public works projects and contractual drainage work: $178,008.
  • Capital Accounts, which the Selectman's office says will focus on replacing vehicles and equipment: $219,267. 

"Over the past years we underfunded replacement of equipment, demanding that vehicles and equipment be kept in service beyond their capacity to perform," said the release from the First Selectman's office. "This budget begins to address those significant needs."

Other specific departments:

  • Police: The budget asks for a $202,812 increase in the Police Department, including an additional $85,945 toward sworn personnel.
  • Fire: Newtown's fire departments approved a budget nearly identical to last year's at 1,214,591.
  • Parks and Recreation: The department is asking for a $40,026 increase -- or 1.8% -- including $15,814 toward lifeguards.

More discussion on these requests and others contained in the budget will be coming in the following days. The full budget should be available on the town's web site Tuesday, said Finance Director Robert Tait.

In the only voter comment of the evening, resident David Freedman praised Llodra for "keeping the budget as flat as you can."

"A small increase for the staff is in my opinion well-needed, especially after what we have all exhausted ourselves with for the last couple months," said Freedman. "You guys definitely need to get a pat on the back. And hopefully the rest of the community will understand the importance of ... the small increase that is there."

David Freedman January 29, 2013 at 02:00 AM
Great job with the budget. Glad to see it nearly flat with a mere 1.9%. The employees of our town deserve the tiny pay increase. Wish it could be more! Thanks to all who lead us and keep our town looking good and safe.
Mr D. January 29, 2013 at 02:39 AM
The fringe benefits are probably set in stone. Some of it may be due to the new health care law (you know, ObamaCare), many businesses are getting that too. The 1.7% raise for town employees seems very reasonable. My own (private) employer is averaring 2.5% this year. Inflation was about 2.07% in 2012. So 1.7% seems very reasonable to me. Overall that 1.9% seems OK. If only they could get the school budget increase in the same ballpark...
Neil Baldino January 29, 2013 at 11:00 AM
If only we can get some state funding to repair our infrastructure, our local roads our in dire need of paving. Fred Hurley has promise me our road would be paved for the last 3 year, false promises.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com January 29, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Both budgets need to be reviewed in detail. remember all the money which was tucked away last year. How much of this budget increases the reserve, what is the contingency, why does Public Works need another $175,000. Vehicles should be in the capital budget. All questions to ask, and perhaps there are good answers. I'm sure the total grand list ( revenue to the town)will increase next year so that should cover some of the increase.
John Poster January 29, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Why is town hall open 5 days a week when it is nearly empty most days. Why don't we only open town hall 2-3 days a week. Many other towns do this for a significant savings.
James January 29, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Why do they need an increase, I didn't get one this year, my health care cost went up my taxes went up, all coming out of my pocket. So now I have to pay more in property taxes in 2013, No way !
carlistojoe January 29, 2013 at 09:10 PM
We are going to get screwed this year with our property taxes. You people voted to split the budget and we are going to pay thru the nose with increased taxes.
Les January 29, 2013 at 09:46 PM
The increase is not reasonable for those of us who have had NO salary increase in two years. What happened to cutting cost by combining some Town and Education positions?
David Freedman January 29, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Bruce, they went through the budget in detail last night and the contingency was set at $200K. All capital expenses will be discussed tonight and i believe you can get the detail in a pdf on the town's website.
David Freedman January 29, 2013 at 10:55 PM
James, Have you seen your new assessment lately? we received ours and I believe everyone in town's went down significantly which means less property taxes. I am not in favor of increased taxes at all, especially since our household income has been cut in 1/2. A 1.9% out of the gate isn't bad. It is likely to be vetted more.
David Freedman January 29, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Calistojoe - did you receive your new assessment? Most of the new assessments brought down the taxes on your property.
David Freedman January 29, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Lee If you had gone to the meeting last night there was discussion on combining services from Town and BOE. I believe payroll is one and has considerable savings with it. Please make sure you no the facts and go to the meetings before responding.
GRC January 29, 2013 at 11:23 PM
If the taxes were reasonable to begin with, I wouldn't have a problem with a 1.9% per year increase.....
G January 29, 2013 at 11:46 PM
DZF - A drop in you property assessment does not mean a decrease in property taxes. They'll simply increase the mill rate so your taxes will remain the same or go higher. A drop in your assessment merely means your property is worth less than it was last time it was assessed.
GRC January 30, 2013 at 01:12 AM
Please make sure you no the facts and go to the meetings before responding." I suggest going to the assessors office and learning about the mill rate before you worry about budget meetings - its like walking before you run. You posted several times that the taxes would decrease based on the new assessments - maybe you should know the facts before responding. Editor: I hope this more friendly response meets your approval.
onceuponanewtown January 30, 2013 at 01:24 AM
You will be paying the same taxes or more if the budget increases. The mill will be adjusted to reflect the current budget at the lower values and will need to be roughly 35 mills? (Not sure how Motor Vehicle taxes will offset that because they will be going way up also.)
Les January 30, 2013 at 02:41 AM
DZF, Taxes will not go down with the new lower assessment. Although your property is worth less, the Town and Schools still need to be funded. Glad to hear positions will be combined to save on costs but I will not vote yes for any budget that calls for salary increases when our family has not had a salary increase in two years and are just trying to survive and I belive others are in this boat.
Freddy January 30, 2013 at 03:14 AM
I agree with DZF that 1.9% is very reasonable. DZF - your taxes are only going to go down to the extent that your assessment went down more than everybody else's. The taxes will just be calculated now on a lower base (meaning higher mill rate to get to the same result).
David Freedman January 30, 2013 at 03:29 AM
Thanks for the feedback folks - it seems like more research on the facts are needed. Freedom of dialogue is always good for all.
Sam Mihailoff January 30, 2013 at 03:39 AM
my words have sadly come true...not a compliment either folks ↓ written 2:30 AM 12/16/12 After 9/11 folks drove around with American Flags unfurled but ceased once it became unfashionable. Will we do the same? Will we drift back to the petty squabbling of politics? I hope not.
Sam Mihailoff January 30, 2013 at 03:59 AM
the mill rate will increase to balance out the downward property values....However the $20,000 mini-van's value stays intact...taxes on that shall sky-rocket
Thomas Crafts January 30, 2013 at 10:25 AM
What does this mean? Do you want us to just comply with the stuff we fought before for the sake of pretending to get along? Are we going to have a fight this budget season? You bet we are.
Bob Attanasio January 30, 2013 at 12:25 PM
Sam... do the math for us... what are the before and after taxes on a 5% increase n the mill rate on a $20,000 mini-van. THX
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com January 30, 2013 at 01:39 PM
I would suggest watching both the expenditure side and the revenue side.The BOS have been very busy giving away revenue for next year. Some examples are the proposed Fairfield Hills leases which would charge no rent..thus no revenue, increases in the tax abatement program will reduce revenue by $250,000, almost 1 % of the municipal budget, Taxpayers dont normally get to vote on revenue reduction only expenditures, but they both impact our taxes.
Sam Mihailoff January 30, 2013 at 02:00 PM
NTHX
Freddy January 30, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Sam - good point. Bad year to have bought a new car...

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