Newtown Board of Finance Trims 'Commodity Reductions' from School Budget

Legislative Council will consider 2.34% tax increase

The Board of Finance Wednesday night approved the proposed 2012 budgets of the Board of Education and the Board of Selectmen, reducing the school budget by $700,000 and the town budget by $227,622. Next, the Legislative Council will deliberate the budgets, and can make additional cuts.

If the budgets were passed as is, taxes would go up by 2.34%.

Approximately $620,000 of the school budget cuts were due to reductions in anticipated costs for diesel fuel, medical benefits and OPED (retiree medical) benefits, as well as cost savings for eliminating four buses by achieving greater efficiencies in bus runs.

“As John Kortze termed it, they found ‘commodity reductions,’” Town Finance Director Robert Tait said. “They don’t affect operations.”

Board of Finance Chair John Kortze and Board of Education Chair Debbie Leidlin did not return calls for comment for this article.

“I would rather have seen a couple hundred thousand less in cuts,” said Board of Finance member James Gaston Jr. “They included savings for four buses, and my understanding is that there may only be savings for two.”

Funding for several items that the Board of Education added to its budget this year were left by the Board of Finance. These included full-day kindergarten, wireless internet at the high school, a middle school guidance position and funding for professional development.

“I know full-day kindergarten, they said they’re going to have it no matter what happens, but a $700,000 cut is going to put that on the line,” Gaston said.

On the town side, savings were anticipated in medical benefits and interest on debt service.

At this point, the town side’s budget shows an increase of 0.43%, the school budget 2.04%, and the town’s debt service on bonds stemming from its Capital Improvement Plan will rise 3.57%. Altogether, this is a 1.75% rise in expenditures.

The Legislative Council’s next scheduled meeting Wednesday, March 22, was canceled, and the next meeting after that is Wednesday, April 4.

Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com March 16, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Look what a little research came up with. Ahead of the local election, which takes place Tuesday, November 8, First Selectman Pat Llodra and her Republican running mate Selectman Will Rodgers released a report on how they expect to handle future finance and taxation if they are successful in their efforts to be reelected. "Our goal for 2012 is for a town-side budget proposal with no increase in spending over the current year," the GOP incumbents stated.
Newtownpatchreader March 16, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Actually Bruce, you don't got it. BOS budget increased .43%. Pretty close to flat. And the Board of Finance added the $400k, not the BOS.
Newtownpatchreader March 16, 2012 at 09:15 PM
A little research, like attending the meeting, would have made that clear.
Michelle March 16, 2012 at 09:32 PM
This appears to be another article written after the fact from either minutes or the video. It's just too bad. Is this going to continue?
Jeff Capeci March 18, 2012 at 01:06 AM
The LC ommittees will vet the budget prior to the full Council taking it up. Education Committee will meet at the time of the regular LC meeting on Wednesday March 21. The other committees have yet to schedule meetings for the Selectmen's budget. The public hearing will be a week from Wednesday, March 28, and the council will meet April 4 and/or April 11 to approve a budget to be sent to referendum.


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