After a rather uneventful review of town expenditures, the Board of Selectmen has moved forward a budget request that represents a 1.85-percent increase from this year's adopted budget.
Except for a few adjustments, such as an increase in the contribution to the capital non-recurring account, the budget request is similar to what First Selectman Pat Llodra originally proposed.
Excluding debt service, the request is .95-percent more than the budget last adopted. Operationally, the increases in town spending are in large part due to contractual salary increases as well as a $13,500 bump in capital spending in the highway department and $7,400 more in capital purchases in technology.
Interestingly, the town is estimating that it will end the fiscal year on June 30 as having spent more than half a million dollars less than expected – mainly as a result of refunding debt service and savings garnered in insurance costs and leaving a couple of positions open.
That would mean if the estimates are correct, next year's request is closer to 3.5-percent more than this year's estimated expenditures. However, the end of the fiscal year still several months away, so estimates are subject to change.
Perhaps, one of the most significant change in the budget request this year was in the calculation and display of employee benefit costs. Rather than lumping employee insurance and benefits for all municipal departments into a single category as had occurred in the past, the finance director has distributed medical and employee benefit costs across individual departments.
First Selectman Pat Llodra asked for the change, saying that it more accurately portrays the actual cost of operating a department or agency.
For instance, the town is slated to contribute $25,000 toward the operation of Children's Adventure Center, a non-profit early childhood education program situated next door to the Senior Center on Riverside Road.
While that is the contribution amount, the cost to the town of operating the center is much more once medical benefits, pension contributions and other employee costs are factored in.
According to the budget document, the town spends nearly $150,000 on the agency. That amount does not even include the rent-free use of the town building and heat, water, sewer and custodial services, which are estimated to cost an additional $65,000.
The budget request now heads to the Board of Finance for review and later the Legislative Council. The Board of Education is expected to vote on its budget recommendations at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 31 at the .