By TAYLOR HARTZ
The Board of Finance (BOF) was in full agreement on March 30, casting four unanimous votes to approve next year’s budget.
The board voted on the budget for fiscal year 2016-2017 by dividing it into four parts – general government, Board of Education (BOE), animal control, and sewer funding.
The unanimous votes came after the BOF held a public hearing and three budget workshops in March to reach their final numbers.
“By far this is one of the smoothest budget processes we’ve had,” said BOF member John Moise (D).
A $50 million budget was passed for the general government, with no changes made to Town Manager Garry Brumback’s proposal. The budget presents a 2.99 percent increase from last year, which Brumback said was mainly driven by union contract negotiations and debt payments for projects such as middle school renovations.
The BOE budget saw a slight decrease from what they requested. The BOF approved a $92.7 million budget for the BOE, though they had requested $92.9 million.
Moise and Kevin Beaudoin (D) agreed that they had originally hoped for a 3.4 percent increase for the BOE budget.
“I felt like this was the year to give them a little more,” said Beaudoin, but both were happy to compromise with a 3.3 percent increase.
“I think this is very fair for the BOE and for the town as a whole,” said Moise.
The BOF agreed that the $65 million increase in the town’s taxable property was to thank for increased BOE spending.
“It’s due to the growth in the Grand List that we are able to be in the position to have such a healthy increase and support education,” said BOF Chairman John Leary (R).
The board also passed a $5.4 million budget for the Sewer Fund and appropriated $227, 522 for animal control. With this budget, the mill rate—the amount of tax payable per $1,000 of property value—is expected to rise less than 2 percent.
Beaudoin said this was one of the lowest mill increases that we’ve have had in the last 10 years. The 1.71 percent increase means a $70 tax increase for a $200,000 home, or a $105 increase for a $300,000 home.
Now that the BOF has approved the budget, it will be reviewed by the Town Council. The council can cut the budget as they see fit before returning it to the BOF. The board will then use the final budget to set the mill rate and levee taxes.
According to the town’s charter, the budget needs to be finalized by May 16.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Hartz, email her at THartz@ SouthingtonObserver.com.