Cautious approach urged to aid cuts

Published on Tuesday, 5 December 2017 22:19
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

BERLIN - The Town Council is proceeding with caution on how to react to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s latest budget moves affecting the down.

Finance Director Kevin Delaney presented a series of options to deal with the almost $600,000 additional cuts the town received in state aid. The town was initially set to see a gain of about $90,000 in funds with the state legislature passed their budget at the end of October.

“It’s unfortunate, but unfortunately it’s the situation we are in,” said Delaney.

The town recently received the additional cuts made by 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 where the spending cuts needed to be made up to Malloy.

Delaney said one of the four options is to keep the budget as is and make up any difference in funding with the use of fund balance. But he advised against that, because it puts at risk the town pension program - which offers a lump sum option to retirees - should someone retire. It may also inhibit future capital improvement projects that are usually paid upfront by the town, which is later is reimbursed by the state.

The second option is implementing a supplemental tax bill, which he said the Board of Finance immediately disliked as an option. If a supplemental tax bill would be implemented, he said, a 0.28-mill tax rate increase would be needed to make up the difference, meaning on a $250,000 home, an additional $48.17 would be paid in taxes, Delaney said.

The third option would be to revise the budget. Delaney explained that when the state budget passed in October, a provision came with it saying a municipality could alter it’s budget if less state aid was received.

However, such a change could only occur where the less aid was received. Since the town side of the budget actually gained money - with the introduction of a new grant, that has already been paid - the Board of Education side was the only side to receive less state aid - nearly $900,000 in Educational Cost Sharing funds - and, therefore, is the only side that could be altered.

With re-adopting of the budget, Delaney said it would have to go through a similar process of approval, meaning a referendum.

The fourth option is asking the town, school board and all other departments to not spend as much as planned during the year.

Delaney said direction from the Board of Finance and Town Council on where exactly to reduce spending would be requested.

Delaney added that this is probably not the last time the budget numbers will change.

Wanting to take in all the information and discuss with the board of ed. and town officials more on what the best course of action is, Mayor Mark Kaczynski wanted to wait before taking any immediate action since services won’t immediately be impacted.

“We’ll come up with a plan,” he said.

The next council meeting is on Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers, 240 Kensington Road.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Tuesday, 5 December 2017 22:19. Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2017 22:22.