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LC Restores $200,000 Back to Board of Ed Budget

LC and BOE hope this will be the budget that passes

On Wednesday night, the Legislative Council heard from First Selectman Patricia Llodra and John Kortze that $240,000 of unassigned capital funding from a non-recurring account could be used to restore funds to the budget, as long as it was used for capital projects.

After a four and a half hour meeting, the Legislative Council voted to use $200,000 of those funds to add back into the Board of Education budget.

The Town budget would receive the remaining $40,000 after reducing their budget by $160,000.

According to Llodra, these particular funds would not result in an increase in taxes, and already exist in a fund.  

Tax increases are now set at .91 percent

Po Murray describes the  funds in a Patch comment, “John Kortze and Pat Llodra found $240,000 in the capital non recurring account which is not part of the general fund. This is the balance remaining after millions were moved into the Fund Balance (the rainy day fund) when the Fund Balance was created after we changed the Charter in 2008 for the town to manage its own surplus (the surplus $$ will no longer be used to offset the tax increase the following year). 

They recommended to the LC that this money could be used to meet the needs of their divided electorate. The LC approved the use of $200K of this amount for capital items in the BOE budget to free up $200K for some other operating expenses. The LC also approved the use of $40,000 for town use however they reduced the town side of the budget by $160K to reduce taxation to about .9% (from 1.07%). Prior to the vote, the BOE presented a potential scenario of the cuts in services and programs to achieve the $1MM reduction.”

 The meeting began with passionate comments from the majority of supporters calling for a reinstatement to the education budget, but a handful of residents did plead for a zero-increase to taxes.

Debby Leidlien, chairman of the Board of Education, handed out a breakdown of budget costs that could be reduced, and hopefully would not effect actual education, however, it seems certain that full day kindergarten will not happen with the 2012-2013 budget.

sadielee June 13, 2012 at 12:44 AM
the police department should be cut by 30%
Barbara Field June 13, 2012 at 01:45 AM
See some very "sophisticated" comments from people who received their education in Newtown. Why is it that cuts from the budget are referred to as draconian but when there is an increase to the taxes it is always minimal? Children are referred to as the future of the country....look what's happened to the future of the children of the baby boom generation! Some plumbers are making a good hourly wage and I ran into a professor from UConn working at home depot. Guess what each of us decides to do with our skills all depends on someone starting a business where you can use those skills or at least earn a salary. I believe Henry Ford didn't go past the eighth grade. And then there's Steve Jobs' story when assessing the importance of an education. Is it how much money the school system demands or the demands individuals place on themselves when wanting to earn a living or provide one for others?
Po Murray June 13, 2012 at 01:57 AM
It is clear from reading the comments from here that there is a great divided betweeen the "no tax increase" contingent and "the school budget is not funded adequately" contingent. It is time to bifurcate the budget and add advisory questions to both the town side and the school side of the budeget to allow each and every person who attend the polls to communicate their desire to the elected town officials. I may or may not like the outcome but at least this budgeting process would be more democratic.
Kevin Fitzgerald June 13, 2012 at 12:59 PM
These are great questions Barbara. But when does a parent know that a child will become a plumber or will be as successful and innovative as Henry Ford with with only 8 years of schooling? Or might that child, with a properly funded (and yes-cost-efficient) education, eventually become the architect who designs the latest earthquake-proof and carbon-neutral home where that plumber installs the plumbing? Or the systems engineer who designs the latest high-speed robotic manufacturing assembly line that Henry Ford could only dream of? If we down-size the objectives of the education system to save on funding, won't we also be down-sizing the resulting achievements? I think the question is what do we do to make sure that we get as much for our money as possible. I do not subscribe to education "at any cost" but I do believe that without proper funding, there is a long-term cost that is far more expensive.
S.Q. June 13, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Stupidest post of the day! The typical, paradigmatic, quintessential logical fallacy of "false dilemma!" Someone makes a compromise suggestion that someone else does not like, so they drag it to the extreme, stamp their feet and scream, "OK, then we'll do NOTHING AT ALL." Seriously?
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com June 13, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Barbara you are correct there does seem to be a focus on the cuts. The concern is that in 2004 Newtown ranked 137 in per pupil expenditure, in 2006 it dropped to 140 and now we are 146th. All the talk about enrollment fails to recognize that we have been dropping expenses relative to all the other towns in CT to adjust to enrollment. The issue is really how low a rank does Newtown really want? We don't have far to go before we spend less than any community in the state, is that the goal?
Big Family June 13, 2012 at 03:18 PM
And once again Bruce, it is NOT about the amount of money being spent it is about how it is spent. They can double the dam budget just show the need and be accountable.
Kevin Fitzgerald June 13, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Show the need and be accountable. That's reasonable enough. I agree.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com June 14, 2012 at 02:38 PM
The Newtown state ranking of pupil expenditure has been dropping since 2004 when we spent less than 136 school systems, in 2006 we ranked 140, and now we are 146. I agree that money is not always the solution, but when you are already at the bottom of the pile I suggest we probably run a pretty tight ship. All towns have has shrinking enrollment so not only have we been adjusting for that but we seem to be managing per pupil expenses tighter than others as our rank keeps dropping. I can understand a position of not wanting taxes raised, but it really seems hard to me to claim that we over spend or don't spend wisely. The facts just don't seem to support that argument.
James June 14, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Bruce, We don't have the business tax base. Why don't you list the towns who rank higher I'm done supporting this town on my back.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com June 14, 2012 at 03:14 PM
James the list of towns who spend more than Newtown is too long, There are 147 ahead of us, who spend more per pupil than Newtown. 20 spend less than we do. Here is the site for the info. http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/dgm/report1/cpse2011/nceadm.pdf
Barbara Field June 14, 2012 at 03:59 PM
James, Amen! Businesses in Newtown are popular only when it comes to campaign and charitable donations and employment. So the homeowners, no matter their financial situation or home value these days, continue to be the endless source of income. I see a lot of for sale signs around town--why is that? We have a new $38 million addition to the high school to accommodate what we were told was needed. So now we lose those tax dollars and whoever is left needs to send more and do with less themselves. I remember being in a technical school when calculators first came out. Our instructors would not allow us to use them. We had to use what we had learned in school already, not to mention our brains and a pencil, not a machine. Now the machines are the problem solvers and we wonder why there are fewer jobs for those college graduates who received homeowners hard earned money to get them there. They are left with huge loans to payoff and little left to save for the future. BUT, I seem to see long lines of people buying the latest and greatest electronic gadgets that are outdated the minute they leave the store. And don't all those text messages cost money? How about teaching children that into each life comes pain--not getting everything you think you need is a start.
Big Family June 14, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Bruce, how much longer will you be reeling out this nonsense? The amount of money is not what we say NO to it's the way they spend it that is offensive. Just show the need and be accountable, I don't think that is asking too much do you Bruce? (are we going to go through this again? I would think you should get it by now)
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com June 14, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Big Family, I just don't find much evidence in the school budget to suggest any improper spending. As a result of the forum one question was presented to Pat LLodra about whether an audit is needed at the BOE. John Kortze responded back to Pat on May 9th as follows: " I have never thought that there were any issues with mis appropriation. The issue are planning, clarity, transparency and accountability and discussion. The BOE is and will continue to address with open dialogue and policy". The BOF went over the BOE budget line by line and approved the budget this year, and all the prior years.
Big Family June 14, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Bruce, I believe that there is improper spending on both sides of the budget. No one has stepped up to explain why we need a principal and two assistants at the HS and what about all the other administrators? they should be examining all of those positions and keep only what we NEED. On the town side there is the police dept. for a start, there is no way that this town NEEDS all of the officers and equipment that we have. I also believe that raises and benefits need to stay in check. All of this is improper spending.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com June 14, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Big Family: Now i get it. I am sure lots of voters have their personal opinion as to what we should and should not spend money on. So you are perfectly entitled to feel some are proper and some are not. I feel the same way. I remember the BOS spending $3.5 million plus interest on a parking lot with no approval of the BOF, the LC, nor the voters. Now that's a huge improper spending if you ask me. So yes please speak up and make your voice heard.
B T June 14, 2012 at 06:50 PM
agreed 100% FDK is a huge issue for a lot of people, and I can tell you after my kids have moved beyond into elementary school, I'll still be a strong supporter of it. The problem is some the folks most interested and concerned about this issue are least able to vote (ask any parent of a 2-4 year old how much free time they have on a given weekday). I'd even hasten to say some parents of young children are so busy they may not even still be aware of what's at stake. So you have a legitimate need for a service that Newtown is clearly behind the curve on, with an electorate that (in my opinion) is under-represented in the voting booths. And then you hear of $7000 speed bumps (I'm generalizing) on Queen Street and one can't help but wonder where the priorities of the town lie.
Bodie June 14, 2012 at 07:09 PM
OMG since when does voting DOWN a budget get you to add more money to it...........This was done once before and forever since you can't figure out WHAT your vote means. Adding money back is a LARGE mistake.Now we'll have to have a charter change to add questions to the ballet...........OR a change to separate school and town budgets and then two separate votes from that time forward on either budget. What a mess...........NO means NO..........and by the way 75% turnout for a national election and 27% for a vote that directly affects you? What is the matter with you people? Letting 27% of the town decide such an important issue? If that's OK with you all than you get just what you desreve.......A government by the few for the few..Just to be clear I voted for the last budget.......but not this time.........I refuse to support a hijacked government for the few............
Big Family June 14, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Bruce, I have to say I'm a little nervous to be so close to the same page as you (lol) but while I feel we will never be exactly on the same page I guess that is what we're doing here, give and take and get to the best place possible for Newtown as a whole.
James June 14, 2012 at 08:57 PM
The best place we can be is eliminate 10 position at the overstaffed PD. Give that money back to the taxpayers and let us get a windfall for once.
Truthteller June 14, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Speaking up may get your voice heard, but it's not being listened to. I have been asking Ms. Llodra to be transparent re: the production of the economic development director and how much money has been generated toward the grand list. Unfortunately, she refuses. Seems like such a simple request, too. Also, if Mr. Kortze has issues with BOE's "planning, transparency and accountability", then perhaps an independent contractor can dig through all of the requisitions at DPW re: work at FFH. If they haven't been shredded by now. Or, have an ethics board retain a consultant to investigate the Claris/Grogins "deal" at FFH. It might make FDK look like a day at the beach! Anyone listening???? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
philip carroll June 14, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Out Door john, -Perhaps Po could have been a better catcher. I believe she was(correct me if I am in error) on the LC as well as Mr Fitzgerald and Mr Davis when the $240,000 was in the unassigned capital non-recurring account . Nothing dishonest then -Nothing dishonest now, just a new spin.
yoda June 14, 2012 at 11:49 PM
James, If you understood how the dept works, you would have a clue. I'm sorry you hold ill will on a few bad apples that were caught and there was NO cover up, found guilty and now are serving a jail sentence. Im sorry your dreams of becoming a police officer did not pan out.
yoda June 14, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Bruce, OH, YOU KNOW WHO I AM, AND IN TIME I WILL REVEAL MYSELF TO YOU, BUT FOR NOW, MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!
yoda June 15, 2012 at 12:06 AM
James, Knowledge is power, knock yourself out! Understaffed would be more accurate. http://newtown.patch.com/articles/newtown-budget-the-police-department-learns-to-live-with-the-times
Big Family June 15, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Yoda, So we read an article that states that we are "doing more with less" what do you expect department heads to say "hey we have way to much money here take some back" The elected officals have to discern what is needed and what is each departments wish list items. Naive is more accurate.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com June 15, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Phil I think one of the issues with the $240,000 is that the BOF and LC are asking for the taxpayer to raise new funds by taxation of $200,000 when the money was already stashed away and could have been and perhaps should have been moved into the fund. No one appears to have been upfront about this money, All the talk about the urgency of increasing the fund for bond ratings and how we must have another $200,000 and it was there all along.
yoda June 15, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Big Family, Seems like everyone forgot the Budget proposed by the B. of Police Com. was reduced at the Board of Selectman level and recently at the LC level after the 3rd ref. The budget proposed was by the BoPC was a same services budget that was still cut twice. This was the third year in a row the PD budget was cut from the original budget presented by the BoPC. The calls for service during that time keep going up. Doing more with less is not naive but a reality.
James June 18, 2012 at 08:04 PM
yoda, tell me were understaffed. How about a town comparision to back up your statement. Population of Newtown vs PD Staff, then tell me we are understaffed. By the way another of Newtown's finest was setting a speed trap on the bottom of queen st. right infront of the speed bump. Oh great yoda, tell me how much sense that makes. Really stretched at the old PD.
James June 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM
again cut 10 PD positions save 650,000 and tell me were going to be less safe in town. What a joke, doing more with less what ? a motorcyle patrol why ? D.A.R.E. car to park outside highschool, new cruisers every year, computers to run random license plates. Yeah, we are really getting our monies worth in that Dept. nicer in Newtown if your overpaid PD.

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