Town council chairperson, Katherine Pugliese, called for a zero mill increase for the 2020-21 budget during the work session held on Monday, March 16. “I appeal to the town manager, superintendent of schools, and my fellow council members to support this plan of action as we come together as a community and do everything in our power to alleviate any further pressure on our taxpayers,” said Pugliese, reading a statement she had prepared. “Taking care of our children, elderly, and all who will be affected by these circumstances is our duty and obligation as leaders of the Plainville community.”
Gov. Ned Lamont signed into action an executive order which stated that all budget preparation deadline dates that fall on or prior to Friday, May 15, are extended by 30 days—this decision would allow the town to push back the dates for the presentation of the budget and public hearing, as well as Plainville’s all-day budget vote.
During the regular meeting held on the same evening, the council unanimously approved to set the 2020-21 budget public hearing on Monday, May 4, at 7 p.m. in council chambers, and the all—day budget vote has now been scheduled for Thursday, May 28, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Plainville Firehouse.
Town manager Robert Lee said that after the work session held on Thursday, March 12, he reviewed the proposed budget and “felt that some adjustments could be made.” The originally proposed budget called for an expenditure increase of 2.16% and a mill rate increase of 1.96%, as part of the $63,114,393 that was originally proposed.
Lee suggested four options to achieve Pugliese’s suggested zero mill increase. In regards to the revenue side of the budget Lee suggested that the building permit estimates for the upcoming year be increased by $50,000; that the police fees be increased by $10,000; and that the contribution from the fund balance be increased by $50,000. These adjustments would increase the revenue side of the budget by $110,000.
With regards to expenditures, Lee explained that the police department had requested hiring an additional police officer—an increase of $63,000—and noted that there had been a miscommunication “with regards to the fire marshal’s budget” in which an increase of $10,000 would be needed to reflect the salary that that position is currently being paid.
Lee shared that finance director, Rob Buden, had calculated that in regards to health insurance, the increase for FY21 would be 3.5%, rather than the 7% projected for the town side and the 5% projected for the Board of Education side.
If these adjustments were accepted by the council, the mill rate would increase by 0.5 mills (or a 1.45% in taxes) over the current mill rate, and it would result in a reduction of $135,680 in expenditures.
“Taking into account the increase in revenues and the decrease in expenditures that would lower the amount to be raised by new taxes by $245,000,” said Lee, “and the net increase that would need to be raised would be $690,000.”
If the mill rate adjustment stands at the newly proposed 0.5 mill increase, the mill rate for FY 21 would be 35.12, and the budget total would be $62,978,713.
The health insurance spurred discussion from councilors, with Councilor Christopher Wazorko asking if the health insurance suggestion was based on information from the state. Town officials had not yet received notification from the state regarding health insurance, but Lee said the town would be notified around Wednesday, April 1. Discussions continued, and the town manager and the town council agreed tentatively schedule another work session for Tuesday, March 31, at 6:30 p.m.
The presidential primary scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, was also moved by the governor. The new primary date is Tuesday, June 2. The decision was made in coordination with Secretary of the State Denise Merrill after consultation with several other states that share the primary date.
“Moving the primary date is a good first step that will give our hard working local election officials more time to prepare,” said Connecticut Secretary of State, Denise Merrill, in a release. “Changing an election date is not something we do lightly—it’s a recognition of the severity and the nature of this crisis and…will allow the maximum number of Connecticut voters to participate in the electoral process.”
Lamont said that the state needs to do all it can to protect the health and safety of Connecticut residents, especially the most vulnerable, during this unprecedented health crisit.
“During these difficult times, we also want to make sure that democracy is not impacted and voters can still cast their ballots safely,” Lamont said in a press release. “Rescheduling the primary election will enable voters to still safely participate in our state’s elections while also protecting their health and the well-being of those who help to carry out elections—our town clerks, registrars, voters and dedicated poll workers.”
To contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at News@PlainvilleObserver.com.