Berlin Town Council to discuss dealing with state spending cuts

Published on Sunday, 3 December 2017 21:07
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

BERLIN - The Town Council on Tuesday will discuss the impact of the latest cuts to town and education aid.

According to council documents, the town is looking at $618,144 less state aid than what it was expecting when it passed its budget in May.

The current fiscal year’s cuts actually came to $1.3 million, but the town had already assumed it would suffer a loss in state aid when it passed its $85.2 million budget. Nearly $900,000 of the cuts were made to the Education Cost Sharing grant - the state’s main vehicle for providing state aid to education funding.

The moves were made by Gov. Dannel Malloy on Nov. 17 after the legislature approved the budget’s numbers in late October - 117 days after its usual July 1 adoption date. But they left exactly where cuts needed to be made up to Malloy.

“There’s nearly a $300 million difference in the state budget,” said town Finance Director Kevin Delaney. “I’m not sure there’s any other way to reconcile the difference.”

The expected discussion comes after the reinstalled Board of Finance discussed in its first meeting two weeks ago three ways to make up for the shortfall: 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, according to Delaney.

The supplemental tax bill was immediately removed as an option by the board, as no one was in favor of it, he added.

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

In the event the budget that already cut almost $9 million from department requests were to be altered, or a supplemental tax bill were to be adopted, Delaney said the town’s corporation counsel indicated that the public would need to be involved somehow. Further clarification is expected at Tuesday’s meeting.

The council will also discuss an ordinance appropriating $3 million for the Berlin Sewer Line Inflow and Infiltration Reduction Program, which will make sewer improvements estimated to last 20 years.

It will also discuss conducting a feasibility study with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection of potential soccer fields on a 27.7-acre parcel owned by the state near Silver Lake. The state has indicated that it is no longer interested in the property, which had been used in dredging the lake.

DEEP has funds remaining for the study, which would look at addressing environmental impact and closing the basins that were opened for the dredging, according to Town Council documents.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in Town Council Chambers, 240 Kensington Road.

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or cpaullin@centralctcommunications.com. On Twitter: @CPaullinNBH.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Sunday, 3 December 2017 21:07. Updated: Sunday, 3 December 2017 21:10.