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Newtown Officials Urge Voters to Approve 2012 Budget

They said another round of cuts could erode town services and the quality of the school system.

Members of the Legislative Council and Board of Finance joined the Board of Education and First Selectman Patricia Llodra Monday to urge voters to approve the town budget in a referendum next Tuesday.

"I strongly encourage people to vote yes on the budget," said Llodra at an informational forum on the budget prior to Monday’s Board of Selectman meeting.

Later, in an interview, she said it was the first time she knew of that members of all the boards responsible for the town budget met at a single meeting and voiced a unified message to the voters.

Llodra also warned that another round of cuts would bite into town services. "I am concerned that additional cuts would erode services and education," she said.

The about the budget to Llodra and members of the Board of Education, Board of Finance and Legislative Council. The questions were funneled through Newtown Bee Editor Curtiss Clark, who served as moderator.

The session lasted one hour before the regular Board of Selectmen meeting. Video of the forum will be available on the town web site and on local news media web sites.

The first question was the one asked most often during this budget season: why hasn’t the Board of Education budget gone down while pupil enrollment has gone down?

Board of Education Chairman Debbie Leidlein explained most of the enrollment drop has been in the elementary schools, but in order to cut staff there has to be a decline of 20 or more students in a single grade and school.

She said the Board of Education is also trying to make improvements at Newtown High School that were recommended by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in order to keep the high school’s NEASC accreditation.

Leidlein doesn’t know if all-day kindergarten can be implemented if voters approve the second budget referendum on May 15, but if they don’t she said the Newtown public schools probably would face severe program cuts.

The while leaving the town side of the budget intact for its second round budget proposal going to the voters next week, on Tuesday, May 15.

Clark asked the Council members how they came to that round number and whether they would cut more from the school budget if voters turn down the budget again.

Council Chairman Jeffrey Capeci, R-3, said he thought the 600-vote margin in the first referendum balloting on April 24 showed strong voter dissatisfaction that warranted a substantial cut from the Board of Education.

If the second referendum also fails, Capeci said he expects the next round of cuts would affect both the town departments and the public schools.

Another question asked if the $400,000 addition to the town’s fund balance, a reserve account also known as the "rainy day fund," might be cut instead of the school budget. Board of Finance Chairman John Kortze strongly recommended against it.

He said bond rating agencies want to see the town build up the fund balance account. Doing so might improve the town’s credit rating, making it cheaper to borrow money, but not doing it might have the opposite effect.

"This is one item in the budget that has a direct impact on each and every taxpayer," Kortze said.

Po Murray May 14, 2012 at 12:21 PM
GRC, Majority of Newtown voters do not post comments here on the Patch in fear of attacks or retribution. The LC should not make decisions based on what they read here in the comment section---most of the commentere are anonymous (who knows---they may be holding an elected seat for all we know) and in one case, one person is not eligible to vote in Newtown. I believe the increases for the teachers are reasonable and fair. The town employee increases are also reasonable and fair. Many teachers are making less than what they made in 2008 due to furloughs and added contribution to health insurance etc...
Po Murray May 14, 2012 at 12:23 PM
I applaud and thank Pat Llodra for thinking outside the box and spending her own funds and time to travel to China.
Paul Alexander May 14, 2012 at 12:25 PM
From the link Alex provided... "The state that most Nutmeggers pack their bags for is Florida, which has no income or inheritance tax." Not that Florida is Nirvana....but The People's Democratic Republic of Connecticut could teach Rome a few things about State suicide.
Paul Alexander May 14, 2012 at 12:33 PM
"Disappointed"? There's a word that is overused and misused by those who try to use their idiotic rhetoric to get others to back down. OK, I'll play along. Po, I'm disappointed that you feel so threatened that you are unwilling to welcome viewpoints from those who wish to engage in thoughtful debate simply because they are not registered to vote. I am even more disappointed that you don't encourage the input of a long time former resident I'll be registered to vote in Newtown soon enough Po.
Paul Alexander May 14, 2012 at 12:58 PM
My mother still lives in town. She lives on a fixed income. She and my father have paid Newtown property taxes for DECADES! Property taxes are a heavy burden for ALL those living in Newtown on a fixed income. Should she live on less because you want higher taxes? Should she be forced from her home because YOU want higher taxes? I am even MORE disappointed Po that you would attempt to silence me in my attempts to bring some sanity to a budget process that is such a threat to retirees on a fixed income.
Paul Alexander May 14, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Well....I guess you haven't been in town long. Po...Some free advice. You are not helping your cause by posting here on Planet patch.
Po Murray May 14, 2012 at 01:12 PM
OK. Thank you for this information. Now I have a better perspective. I applaud your efforts to support your mother on a fixed income. It would have been nice to have this information earlier. Obviously there are variety of opinions on the Patch. You and I have provided our opinions but the LC should not make their decisions based on what they read here. They need to poll all eligible voters (your mother) via bifurcated budgets with advisory questions so that the LC can make decisions based on what the voters desire. Once a more fair system is established, I will live with the outcome. Newtown residents have to define what type of town Newtown should be. Right now, I believe Newtown is on a wrong path for everyone who owns property since educational quality directly impacts home value/equity.
Paul Alexander May 14, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Po, You have a child’s understanding of Causation. Your comments reflect a belief that there is a 100% correlation between dollars spent on education and the quality of education. You also seem to believe that there is a 100% correlation between education quality and the value of residential real estate. Your views are naive, dangerous and fiscally irresponsible. Thankfully, a majority of taxpayers have an adult understanding of causation.
Po Murray May 14, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Paul, This quote that was recently shared on Facebook says it all "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." Eleanor Roosevelt Attacking someone with words such as "child's understanding and naive" will not advance your cause. This type of mean behavior prevents thousands of Newtown residents from expressing their views here on the Patch.
Paul Alexander May 14, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Geez Po....what do you want? You want me to shut up cuz I'm not a resident (yet) or do you want me to discuss ideas? Make up your mind. Oh...and briefly review my many comments over the past few weeks and then revisit Ms. Eleanor's quote.
Paul Alexander May 14, 2012 at 02:03 PM
...and I didnt attack you. Nice try. I criticized your "understanding" and "views". They'rrrrre wacky! "Mean behavior"? Bwahhaaaaaaa!
yoda May 14, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Great minds think for themselves! -Yoda
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com May 14, 2012 at 02:39 PM
GRC you may well be correct,that public employees do not deserve a increase, and that given the choice the taxpayer deserves the discount. Maybe a compromise would have been in order. What I find interesting is that you don't mention the municipal employees whom got increase in the 2% range, yet the LC didn't cut a dime out of their budget.
Sam Mihailoff May 14, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Po, Whether you choose to review some of your statements is immaterial. Mind you many such comments shall live on to bite you when you speak of "global views" or even attempt to mount another political campaign. Several comments are listed below...I left out your personal attacks directed at the "DIRTY HALF-DOZEN" > a disagreement is mean spirited??? > a passionate view is anger??? > Attacking someone with words will not advance your cause???
Paul Alexander May 14, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Sully....from your mouth to God's ear brother. Been trying. AINT HAPPENING. So, I'm buying in Newtown. Lucky you!
Dee Dee May 14, 2012 at 04:45 PM
My view - NO EMPLOYEE paid out of tax revenue should be getting ANY raise. Here is why - the rest of us, the taxpayers just had a huge tax increase - THUS A PAYCUT, that not only was a cut to our current income but that was passed half way through last year and required we go back and make up for 6 months worth of taxes we did not know we would owe (HMM so exactly when can we assume OUR money is OURS?). Thus every taxpayer just had their income LOWERED why should those whose salaries we pay then have an increase? NO, they should at a minimum remain flat! I know in our family we had slight raises but after taxes it turned into a PAY CUT! Enough - I am not taking a paycut to pay raises!
Paul Alexander May 14, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Excellent perspective Dee Dee! And if it was "reasonable" for the State to enact a retroactive tax hike (I was home last year when that hit the news. I thought it was a prank by the Times-Union) then is it reasonable for the taxpayers to enact a retroactive teacher and municipal employee salary reduction? My how the Unionistas would howl!!! When the taxpayers are as aggressive as the public employee unions, THEN you'll get the tax reform you deserve.
Michael May 14, 2012 at 05:03 PM
All this talk about per pupil spending is BS and scare tactics. Newtown is ranked #27 in the CAPT Math and Reading 2011 up 4 from 2010. The children are getting a quality education. The current economic conditions mandate a zero increase for both education and the town budgets.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com May 14, 2012 at 05:19 PM
This has surely become a republican signature budget. We currently get outstanding results with one of the lowest per pupil expenditures in the state.It appears that the republican believe that we can spend even less, perhaps the Republican goal is to spend the least of any town on educating our children. We are getting close. I wonder what our per resident expenditure is for our residents on the municipal side and how we rank? Has anyone calculated that.
Dee Dee May 14, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I AGREE. I am of the view that it is irrelevant! When there is no more money why discuss how much to spend. Perhaps this all could have been avoided by starting from that point. Furthermore, many towns around us have passed Zero increases, why not us too? Looking towards the future, the best lesson (and perhaps the most important one) our children need to learn is "to do more with less!' Many countries that are out performing our students are not spending as much as we do. It is not all about how much you spend. Again I go back to - too many people (many whom I know are trying to hide it) are barely hanging on. Another tax increase and one has to wonder how many families in houses under water will keep pouring good money after bad knowing the amount they have to pay in, even in the toughest of times, will continue to increase.
Dee Dee May 14, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Being a mom of several children in the Newtown Public Schools, every time there is a vote for the budget I get bombarded with reminders - via phone and email to vote. This bothers me. I gave them my contact information for early dismissals, school closings and other emergencies - not to promote getting out the vote. I am in favor of getting out the vote but then it should be a town wide effort - all senior citizens contacted, all registered voters contacted, all those on the emergency notification system for the town - NOT just through the schools in the hopes that it tilts the vote one way or another. This just bothers me.
Newtown Resident and Teacher May 14, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Just a reminder that the state tax hikes hit teachers also. Some Newtown teachers are still making less than they were in 2008, the rest may be making a smidgen more but are nowhere near where the contract stated at the time. As someone else pointed out, those tiny increases in salary are gobbled up by increases in health insurance rates. Many Newtown teachers also live here and are just as affected by tax increases as any other resident. My point is that we're all under financial stress whether we're public or private.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com May 14, 2012 at 07:23 PM
What bothers me more is the elected town leaders did nothing to promote the first budget, but now that the whole $1 million came out of education they came out in droves to support the second budget, They even used town resources to promote a yes vote, which appears to be illegal under state election laws. Very curious way to run a town.
Dee Dee May 14, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Believe me - I get that. I adore the teachers and try hard to keep this all from being a target at teachers. You all work very hard! We are all under financial stress - hence the budget needs to be held to 0 increase! I have posted previously that can be made possible by looking at other ways to create cost savings and frankly I suspect if we took the time to ask the teachers, janitors, administrators, students.... all those impacting school resources everyday - they might just come up with lots of ideas. So yep - I know teachers are hurting too. Its sad - but it is the new reality and to increase our incomes we all have to come up with ways to spend less in other areas or be more productive. Thank you, as a teacher for all you do! I only wish our society valued teachers more and hollywood types, professional athletes.... less - think about how mucked up our priorities are - they make millions and teachers not so. Sad!!!!!!!!!
Emma May 15, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Better to have a job at 2008 salary than no job at all. Who is more stressed? Sorry, no sympathy.
Mr D. May 15, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Tired of the "spend more on school" to get property values up argument. The number of households with children has dropped below 50% nationwide. Which means the majority care more about things like low property taxes than school spending.
sebastian dangerfield May 15, 2012 at 05:43 AM
sully you want to really have some great reading check this out http://www.ct.gov/opm/lib/opm/finance/hhs_commission/cost_comparisonworkgroup/peters_-_state_and_private_employee_compensation.pdf Average CT private sector employee total compensation ( salary + benefits) = 74,000 Average Public sector employee total compensation = 105,500 You are checking out unemployment rates in florida vs ct The unemployment rate dropped last month to 7.7. You are correct. But the jobless rate doesnt indicated strength in the economy, as even though the jobless rate decreased, there was a net job loss of 2700 jobs. If you are losing jobs , yet unemployment decreasing, it simply means that people are not looking for jobs. One positive sign--in the last year private sector jobs have added 37k, while there has been a decline in government jobs of 2,000. So the job growth is not direct govt jobs. But slightly closer look, says the growth was in transportation and education. So-when malloy hires private companies to work on the road, it is paid for by public money, but the companies are private.....therefore , a mixed bag. But check out CT compensation levels...the AVERAGE GOVT worker in CT makes 105,500. This is why we are going to have a problem. Not because the 'wealthy' dont pay their fair share. Its because we overpay our govt workers by 30%. That is the definition of unfair... If its "fair" that the Dems want to achieve.
Alex Tytler May 15, 2012 at 07:46 PM
2020 on the vote count at 3:00 pm.
Gina Wessen August 26, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Would like to get your input about the tone of the "Accountability In Newtown" FB Group, and whether you think it helps or hurts the town. Please chime in at the new "Accountability in Newtown CT (Open and Uncensored)" FB Group here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/359442710803141/
Jodie September 01, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Please respond to the real Gina (Donna Boyce) at the link below: The corresponding "referring URL to Gina's Profile Picture is: https://www.facebook.com/po.murray/friends?ft_ref=mini Donna Boyce: http://www.donnaboyce.com/Why_Call_Donna/page_566782.html

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