By SHERIDAN CYR
On Monday, May 14, the Town Council unanimously approved both the general government and Board of Education budgets for fiscal year 2018-2019 with no increase expected in local taxes.
“I couldn’t be happier and prouder to share such great news with our residents,” said council chair Chris Palmieri (D). “This is huge, and this wouldn’t be possible without collaboration of all our local boards as well as cooperation from the State of Connecticut.”
The approval of the BOE budget includes a restoration of $515,200, which increased the total BOE budget to $95,827,529. The general government budget remained at $53,230,866 and includes a $1 million contingency fund.
“We are very fortunate that, through a bipartisan effort at the state, we have received some phenomenal news. The session finished last week, and the town is receiving quite a bit of additional funds that we didn’t plan for,” Palmieri said. “I have been in conversation with Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-31) and it appears we are in a good place moving forward, and we won’t have to deal with some of these problems again.”
Minority chair, Victorian Triano (R) also stated she felt fortunate to receive the help from the state.
“We had cut our budget as much as we possibly could,” Triano said.
Councilor William Dziedzic (R) expressed some concern regarding the state assistance.
“I don’t feel like, in this situation, we came to the correct solution,” he said. “We got lucky. We should remember this a year from now. I think the questions, dialogue, and framework of this conversation should change in future years.”
Councilor Tom Lombardi agreed. “I have no idea where this money came from. Two weeks ago, we were in a hole, and cutting everything in a panic mode,” Lombardi said. “Now, all of a suddenl, the state magically comes around and gives us money. At the end of the day, we are all Connecticut residents and this has to be paid for in some way, shape or form.”
Democratic councilor Chris Poulos said in response that revenue has increased dramatically at the state level and “surpassed any expectation.” State officials are even projecting $1 billion in a rainy day fund for the next governor.
Palmieri defended the budget restoration. “The amount of collaboration and communication [between board members] has superseded what has happened in the past, and I don’t think it’s truly accidental,” he said. “I think we were trying to be forthright with the public, open, honest and transparent.”
Along with the BOE and town budgets, the council approved the animal control budget (9-0), sewer fund budget (9-0), and capital budget (8-1 with Lombardi casting the dissenting vote). Palmieri abstained from a line item vote for recreation expenses in the general government budget.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Current Town Budget proposals for FY 2018-2019
For the General Government proposed budget click here:
For the Board of Education budget, including the Superintendent’s proposed budget and the BOE’s proposed budget, click here: SouthingtonSchoolsbudget
For the Board of Finance proposed budget, click here:
Observer coverage for this year’s budget talks