Officials Ready Town, School Budget Proposals

A municipal budget proposal is scheduled for Wednesday, and an education budget proposal for Thursday.

With both the first town and school budget proposals due this week, officials are readying the first rounds of a discussion many hope will avoid a repeat of previous difficult budget years in Newtown.

Interim Superintendent John Reed will present his proposed budget Thursday at Newtown High School, a reschedule due to Tuesday’s snowfall. First Selectman Pat Llodra and Finance Director Robert Tait will present the municipal proposed budget Wednesday during a Board of Selectmen meeting at Newtown Municipal Center.

School officials in particular have been cautious about presenting an amenable budget, especially among those concerned about rising taxes.

"I heard more frustration about the increase in taxes from everybody,” said Board of Education member Kathy Hamilton at a Dec. 23 board meeting. "From the over-55 community, from parents, from people who work in the districts -- I heard it from absolutely everybody. Last year was a complete disaster as far as the increase for a lot of people. I want us to be realistic, and I don’t want us to go through three or four referenda to get there."

In the buildup to the budget presentations, Board of Finance member Joe Kearney presented numbers last week showing the board’s projection of consequences of an increasing education budget hand-in-hand with declining enrollment.

"If you were going to make a bet, I think you would bet this trend is going to continue,” Kearney said. “That’s our dilemma, that’s our challenge.”

Kearney said numbers show the influence a declining student population has had on per-pupil expenditures and the town’s overall budget. Newtown’s enrollment is currently at its lowest since 2000, according to recent figures. The town spent $14,350 per student in 2013-14 and is projected to spend more than $15,000 in 2014-15, assuming a 1.71% budget increase.

"This is why it is so critical to try and plan ahead for any rapid student population declines — because even if we spend less in total, our per pupil expenditures will increase,” Kearney said.

In December, Board of Finance members sent a letter to the Board of Education asking for, among other things, a flat budget for the upcoming year. At a Dec. 23 meeting, some Board of Education members said they would support a flat budget, but an amendment to add a zero-percent budget increase to the yearly list of budget goals failed after a tie vote, with chair Debbie Leidlein, Hamilton and David Freedman in favor and Laura Roche, John Vouros and Michelle Embree Ku against.

"Emotionally, it feels good to say zero percent,” Ku said. "But it doesn’t make sense to me. We’re here to represent the needs of the district, not what the taxpayers feel emotionally good voting for."

Followup municipal budget proposal meetings are scheduled for Jan. 29 and Feb. 3. The municipal budget will be presented to the Board of Finance on Feb. 10. Followup school budget workshops are scheduled for Jan. 28 through Feb. 14 — see the Board of Education’s budget season introduction for more details on dates.
Thomas Crafts January 22, 2014 at 10:23 AM
How about a cut commensurate with the decrease in school population averaged over the last 5 years?
Paul Alexander January 22, 2014 at 01:15 PM
“State Fiscal Condition”.......“Ranking the 50 States”.......George Mason University – January 2014.......Sarah Arnett, PhD............ http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/Arnett_StateFiscalCondition_v1.pdf.........Skim through this little .pdf of fun.......The bottom five states for long-term solvency are, in order from the bottom…NJ, IL, CT, MA, CA. Connecticut is ranked #48 out of 50 states for long term solvency. So Newtown…you better figure out how to get your town budgets in order now before the state transfer payments start declining as they most definitely will. And how “Emotional”, to quote the ever kooky Michelle Ku, will the town’s taxpayers be after they get their inevitable local tax increase followed by a new, record busting STATE tax increase??? Why not start by emulating the policies of the top ranked states for long-term fiscal solvency. Hint... tax and spend progressive politics AINT what the top ranked states have in common.
porter gladstone January 22, 2014 at 01:59 PM
Think there are enough state ranking surveys that make CT at the top and bottom to make your head spin. Paul, if youre point is that liberal fiscal policy has become more dangerous I agree. But it also ignores GOP fiscal irresponsibility. There was a thing last week in NPR about how we subsidize cotton farmers . Brazil cotton farmers sued and won in the World Trade Org courts multiple times on grounds of unfair competition owing to these subsidies. The US response, was not to end the aid to cotton farmers, but instead to offer same subsidies to Brazilian cotton farmers. The US federal govt now sends over about 150 million dollars to brazilian cotton farmers. Cotton farmers are almost all in Red States. Thats Republican welfare....in addition to the medicare D plans etc. The states at the top of most of these lists of being in fiscally good shape, like Alaska, North Dakota, etc--often have Oil deposits and /or low density populations. So if Connecticut can discover oil then maybe we can move up on this Phd candidate from Georgia State University's list. My issue with liberals (actually I have many) is not that they offer help to the needy. It's more that they make it seem as though the needy are in their position through no fault of their own, and that the wealthy arrive at their wealth through either pure luck or some crime or exploitation. Republicans hand out tons of money in corporate welfare, and Military bases that are not really needed. And obtain their votes. Democrats hand out the money to ..the disenfranchised and obtain votes that way. Democrats promote the feeling of being further disenfranchised and that its not their fault they didnt go to school, etc. It makes sense to court those people and they do it well.
Paul Alexander January 22, 2014 at 02:26 PM
When CT has to secure a $900 MILLION loan because the state ran out of record setting tax increase money before the budget cycle ended....then Connecticut is not at the top of ANY fiscal solvency ranking. CT taxpayers will once again this budget cycle pay for the failure of the state's progressive politics. Oh...and more residents and businesses will leave CT for more fiscally sane states. Taxes will then have to rise even more to compensate for the declining tax base. More people will leave. And that's what a death spiral looks like. Larger states like CA and NY can put off the inevitable longer. CT will be one of the first states to implode.
porter gladstone January 22, 2014 at 04:59 PM
Paul, whats at the top of the list? Do you ignore valid points in the hopes of finding an exception that then means your not totally wrong? Which states in position number 1 and 2 are not oil states. And then ask me if I make stuff up. Ill be here waiting for your awesome tough guy response that might include a lie or 2 -but most likely will simply be an attack on me personally (otherwise known as an adhominem attack....that doesnt win arguments but sure does seem to be your go to strategy). How is the beach today Paul? Any problems with blowing sand?
porter gladstone January 22, 2014 at 05:11 PM
Im not at all in agreement with Malloy and his liberal tax and spend and then blame the rich and the corporations . I do know that Ct has a budget surplus. I do know that the 900 million dollar loan was in large part necessary owing to a change in accounting principles going from modified cash to GAAP which messes up cash flow projections . I do know that issuing bonds on a munipal level is not new and that the term borrowing money implies something nasty as though every time you pay for a meal at a restaurant with a credit card as oppposed to cash one could raise their eyebrows if they were so inclined. You are so inclined because while I dont like Malloy I try to view things objectively. Malloy struck a deal with ESPN providing tax incentives for a company that earns 500 mio a month in subscriber fees alone. But if it were a republican governor Id be just as understanding of what it takes sometimes to keep companies happy and that overall ESPN is a huge net payer of income taxes. No--I dont ignore realities to villify people. I look at the facts objectively and then normally side with Republicans. But thats not the way you do it. If Malloy gives tax breaks to espn he is giving away money. If our patch troll thinks a republican gov gives away money to espn he would be 'giving it to his rich country club cronies' I think neither of you are capable of fair analysis. Thats my take.. now come at me and call me drunk or something-- Id be super surprised if you were able to acknowledge there is a budget surplus--because it doesnt fall in who you are.
Paul Alexander January 22, 2014 at 06:52 PM
" I do know that Ct has a budget surplus." No Porter, CT has a REAL $400 MILLION budget DFICITt. There's much reporting on the issue. Look it up. I'm not your research assistant The Governor BORROWED $900 MILLION so that he could (falsely) report two things prior to his re-election bid. 1. He did not raise taxes. No he didn't. Instead he threw 900 Large on the state's credit card. 2. After covering the $400MM deficit with the loan proceeds the $500MM left over could be (falsely) reported as a budget surplus. And Boobus Nutmegus will believe it. You certainly do.
porter gladstone January 22, 2014 at 11:37 PM
Ah so when you borrow money the money is counted as revenue? And youre saying the Treasurer and Comptroller are in on this? Nope, I went over the numbers. Economy improved, made 175 million from a tax amnesty program. Sales tax came in 35 mio over budget. 230 mio over on tax revenues owing to the improved stock market primarily. Had a reduction in expenditures due to deferred comp in many of the public union areas. A lot of that deferred comp will come back to bite us starting in 2016...but the bond issuance is not counted as revenue. If you'd like to support your thesis with the line item that has LOAN= Revuene, Id love to see it. I think where Paul Alexander is confused is that the terms of the loan include a clause that the state need only begin paying interest on the loan after the election which is an obviously slimey tactic that gets backing from this Dem state of yes men. But your contention that the 900 mio was counted as revenue is false.
porter gladstone January 22, 2014 at 11:45 PM
Oh and the interest payments on all that debt mean we owe what appears to be about 200 million right after the end of the guberntorial elections in 2014. GAAP accounting should put an end to this gimmicky/tricky stuff. Paul, do you think its possible for you to ever make a comment on Patch without insulting people? And Im still wondering how the blowing sand has affected your view of the ocean today and if the foam from the ocean has dirtied your windows? Please dont ignore my questions like this--it honestly hurts my feelings.


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