Berlin's new finance board must deal with state's budget cuts

Published on Thursday, 30 November 2017 22:48
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

BERLIN - The re-established Board of Finance held its first meeting since the Nov. 7 elections on Tuesday, Nov. 21 and discussed the latest state budget cuts, among other items.

The board, which consists of Republicans Sam Lomaglio and Sal Bordonaro and Democrat Gerry Paradis in four-year seats and Republican Kevin Guite and Democrats Mark Holmes and John Richards in two-year seats, was brought back through charter revisions approved by voters in 2016. It had last existed in 2005.

Lomaglio and Paradis were unanimously voted chairman and vice chairman. They were the only nominees, town Finance Director Kevin Delaney said.

The board then conducted its regular business, which was largely spent on discussing the state budget.

Gov. Dannel Malloy announced over $580,000 in additional “lapses” or “holdbacks” to the town’s budget earlier this month, after the town was set to initially receive a bump of $90,000.

The “lapses” or “holdbacks” are cuts that result from the legislature’s passing the financial numbers and leaving it up to Malloy to dictate where the cuts are applied. The year-to-year shortfall is $1.3 million.

“A lot of the discussion was laying the grounding, discussing what kind of impact (those cuts) would be,” said Delaney.

Delaney said the board then discussed ways to address the shortfall in three ways: a supplemental tax bill, revising the adopted budget and asking the town and Board of Education to “tighten their belt” to make up for the cuts.

He added that a supplemental tax bill had been immediately removed as an option by the board, as no one was in favor of it, and specific items including as a hiring freeze were not discussed.

If the proposed cuts are final, “there’s nearly a $300 million difference in the state budget,” said Delaney, adding that the state legislature said they would be meeting Wednesday to discuss the cuts.

“I’m not sure there’s any other way to reconcile the difference,” said Delaney.

Delaney explained that the passage of the state budget came with a provision that municipalities are allowed to alter their adopted budget should any funding changes occur. However, it must be done the same way in which the budget was initially adopted - a referendum, he added.

In the event of altering the adopted $85.2 million budget that already cut almost $9 million from department requests, or implementing a supplemental tax bill, Delaney said initial feedback from the town’s corporation counsel indicated that the public would need to be involved somehow, but further clarification is expected to be discussed at the next Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

The next Board of Finance meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at Town Hall.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Thursday, 30 November 2017 22:48. Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2017 22:50.