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In Hopes of Passing New Budget, Council Reduces Proposed Tax Increase [CORRECTED]

As modified at by the Legislative Council, the proposed budget goes from carrying a 0.91% tax increase to 0.69%.

[Note from Patch Regional Editor Gary Jeanfaivre: The original article incorrectly reported that funds were added to the budget. We are stunned and embarrassed by our mistake, and deeply apologize for the confusion we have clearly caused. We take full responsibility for that, and have set up plans to prevent this from reoccurring. Moving forward, any articles that deal with town government issues will get a full edit prior to publication. Here is my email and phone number should anyone have any questions or concerns: Gary Jeanfaivre, Patch Regional Editor, gary.jeanfaivre@patch.com, 203-556-0777]

Compromise was the call word at the June 27th Legislative Council meeting, with both residents and council members agreeing that a budget was needed that would pass. Whether more money was added or more taken away -- and where those funds would come from -- proved to the sticking point.

In the end, though, the Legislative Council voted to reduce the planned contribution to the fund balance by $100,000, and spending was decreased through a $100,000 deduction to the contingency fund; that $200,000 changed the proposed rate of tax increase from 0.91% to 0.69%.

This decision was not without concern, as noted by John Kortze, chairman of the Finance Committee. He came in at the end of the five-hour meeting and advised the Legislative Council that these kinds of decisions would have been best made by calling a special meeting with the Board of Finance.   

The decision to take $100,000 from the fund balance came with great consternation by several of the council members, who feared the town would suffer with higher interest rates over several years.

Taking $100,000 from the town’s contingency budget was not without concern to town officials too, since it leaves $250,000 for emergencies such as might occur with extreme weather.

Legislative Council member Mitch Bolinsky called for the entire $200,000 to come from the contingency budget, however First Selectman Patricia Llodra said, “That would only leave $150,000 for the entire town. We might have to come back here for appropriation if we find ourselves in trouble, and would have to find a way to build that back up next year.”

Some council members had called for more cuts, with no additional money going toward education. Board of Education Debbie Leidlein countered, “I think it is a tremendous mistake. The BOE has worked hard to remove $1.7 million from the budget without effecting services, but with another $200,000 reduction, we will be going backwards.”

Llodra agreed. “This is one of the areas where Newtown defines itself. It’s [education] is one of our core values.”  

Compromise came in the form of a list of cuts that the BOE and principals of the schools agreed would not effect services. Some of those cuts included eliminating the Transportation Coordinators, which would be a role now assumed by the All Star Bus Company. Unemployment, changing an assistant principal to a lead teacher and lowering the amount budgeted to cover workmen's compensation were also areas of reduction.

The final motion carried with an 8-3 vote.

Council member Mitch Bolinski said, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

DaveD July 05, 2012 at 08:14 PM
This town has 2 major issues 1) there is way to much fat in the budget and 2) and there a serious lack of leadership and "vision"... For too long the town has hid their budget behind the schools budget and to ensure that the budget passes, they say this like “if this doesn’t pass then your kid won’t learn to read”… well they have gotten away with it for years and now they have been caught, NO means NO… I have read here that some people say its ONLY $55… then I have an idea... If its “ONLY $55 then let’s make it optional, those that want to pay, let them pay, those that don’t, don’t… we can call it a donation, you can pay mine… let’s see how many people that are pro-increase would actually pay… despite what our president wants and is trying to do, this is NOT a socialistic society… you cant tell me what I “should” do with my money The town cannot waste the best piece of land it owns by using it for town buildings...thus generating ZERO tax income, in 2 places (the new buildings and the old) regardless if we "rent out" the old town hall...thats BS). FFH needs to be made over into a REVENUE GENERATING "business" which brings people into the town to spend money, you dont need to go to Harvard business school to figure this out! More people and business = more money
DaveD July 05, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Also can someone please explain to me how and why we are spending over 1 mil $ on the library! REALLY! I get the fact that its one of those things that we have to have, but 1 MILLION dollars! you cant tell me its "for the children" thats nonsense, every school has one in the building (which I’m sure we are over spending on as well) I have lived in this town for 13 yrs (and yes i went to school here) i have never even been into that library, and do you know why, because i have a computer and in todays world everything you need, you can get on a computer, and when I did need it I used the high schools... now some people will argue that, well, some people dont have computers, and that may be, but it is way cheaper if the town just bought those folks a computer. it certainly would cost 1 million dollars! The transfer station… several bordering towns (including oxford and Shelton), as a resident you don’t have to pay to use it…imagine that! Because the town cant seem to run it maybe it should be privatized, that way at least if we still had to pay for it, the town would be making money in taxes for a Business, isn’t that a concept!
DaveD July 05, 2012 at 08:15 PM
I am the first one to say if someone doesn’t like it here there are many other towns in this state to live… problem is you can sell your house because the values are down and THE TAXES ARE TO HIGH, that people don’t want to buy your house…it’s a catch 22, so in the meantime seems we have to try and fight the good fight. Some are worth it and this one certainly is… The town needs to be run like a business and currently the people in place are not doing that, they don’t want to offend anyone by making the tough decisions… if you cant make those decisions then step aside and let someone else do it Bottom line is even at the worst economic down turn since the 20's the taxes keep going up... so is it safe to say they will NEVER go down or even stay flat NO MEANS NO, not sure how else to say it.
Les July 06, 2012 at 08:03 PM
The library is open way too many hours. They are open over 55 hours a week during the summer and over 60 hours a week the rest of the year. Is there any reason they need to stay open till 8:00 PM 4 nights a week? I think not. How much would staggering and cutting back to a reasonable 40 hours a week would save us?
Sam Mihailoff July 06, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Burn the books...buy everyone IPads and Kindles...keep those Chinese factories running

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