Southington is nearing the final stages of the 2017-18 budget process. On Monday, April 24, the Town Council will open their meeting with a public hearing to give residents one last chance to provide input about the budget.
Council vice chair Cheryl Lounsbury, a Republican, said that some years a lot of people come out, while other years draw very few. It usually depends upon what the budget will affect.
“I don’t see any issues this year with a lot of public concern behind them,” Lounsbury said. “The fire department may come out for more men, but I don’t see anything else.”
Democratic Councilor Dawn Miceli agreed that the Fire Department staffing is the main hot topic issue.
“I think it’s shameful that we’ve never hired a brand new position in my near decade on the council,” she said. “We’ve never funded a new hire.”
Even with the uncertainty at the state level, Southington officials are not expecting much backlash from the recent workshops. Town officials expected less money from the Capitol, and this year’s budget process has reflected that. For the most part, there was little controversy at previous workshops and hearings.
The BOF held a public hearing in early March where about a dozen residents spoke before the board, while town employees and officials turned out to watch.
Working through the uncertainty from the state, town officials have been crafting Southington’s financial plan for months. Every department lobbied for funds to better their sector, while the Board of Finance listened closely and made decisions based on town needs.
Last month, the BOF unanimously adopted the proposed budget for the council to take action on.
The general government budget was approved by the BOF for $56,130,363 and the Board of Education budget was approved for $87,309,939. Should the council approve the budget as proposed, Southington’s mill rate will increase by 2.8 percent.
The current mill rate is 29.64, but with this budget, 30.48 mills are required to stay balanced.
“There has been chatter on Facebook,” Miceli said. With an increase to Southington’s Grand List this spring, Miceli said that some residents are questioning why taxes still need to be increased.
The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in the John Weichsel Municipal Center public assembly room. No vote will be taken that night.
“We will simply listen,” said Miceli.
Lounsbury said that the council will not adopt the budget until May.
Under town charter guidelines, they must adopt a budget no later than the second Monday in May—May 8—so that the BOF can adjust the tax mill rate on or before May 15.