Budget: Southington Town manager asks for 2.76% increase for 2020-21 budget

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Southington Town Manager Mark Sciota submitted his proposed general government budget to the finance department on Feb. 19 at a total of $54,019,942. The budget includes all town services and employees except the schools and school personnel.

Sciota’s proposal asks for an increase of $1,451,200 (2.76%) from the current budget. The budget increase includes an $850,000 contingency fund.

“This budget is submitted after extensive work by our department heads who have taken the direction given to them by my office back in December and have truly met—and in many cases exceeded—my expectations,” Sciota said in a letter to the board of finance attached to the budget proposal.

Sciota explains in the letter that the budget includes two new police officers “in continuing with our plan to improve staffing.” It also addresses the town’s need to maintain infrastructure, and contains funds for road improvements, sidewalk improvements, park improvements, replacement of roofs and heating and cooling systems.

The 2019 grand list increased by 2.18 percent, resulting in an increase in revenue of $2,721,650 without raising the mill rate, according to the town manager. In addition, the governor’s budget does include additional funds to the town, mostly from state bonding, in the net amount of $277,737.

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Once again, the general government budget will be reduced by money set aside by the board of finance for one-time capital expenditures. This year, the town will use approximately $4.49 million from this fund, an increase of almost $2.62 million from last year’s amount.

“I would like to recognize the partnership between the town departments, board of finance and town council, and their continued commitment to providing the best services revenue can support and their effort to preserve town services,” Sciota said in the letter.

The finance board has already received the board of education’s proposed $101,628,445. The com- bined budget proposals total $160,138,387—an increase of $4.58 (2.95%) from the current budget.

After the November election, the BOF set proactive guidance, requesting in a vote that the total town and BOE budget increase remain below a 1.5% increase to the mill rate for 2020-21. If both budget proposals are adopted as-is, the town’s mill rate would need to increase 0.45 to a minimum rate of 31.09 (a 1.46% increase).

“I would like to recognize the exceptional efforts of our development team and all that they have accomplished in attracting new business and new residential units,” said Sciota. “I would also like to recognize the assessment and tax team led by Teresa Babon, as well as the finance team led by Emilia Portelinha, for their tireless efforts in assisting with this budget.”

The next step in the process will be a public hearing on both budgets on March 2 at DePaolo Middle School at 7 p.m. The board of finance will review both the BOE and general government proposed budgets. On March 25, the BOF will make their recommendations to the town council.

The Town Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. at the municipal center on April 27 before adopting the budget on May 11. On May 13, the BOF will set the mill rate for the 2019-2020 budget.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at News@SouthingtonObserver.com.