Berlin Town Council to discuss budget reductions

Published on Sunday, 31 December 2017 21:02
Written by Charles Paullin

@CPaullinNBH

BERLIN - Reductions of $400,000 to the Board of Education side and $200,000 to the town side of the budget will be discussed by the Town Council Tuesday, and more state cuts could be coming.

Town and school officials met in December to discuss ways to deal with the nearly $600,000 less in state aid the town received in November when Gov. Dannel Malloy cut $91 million in municipal funding from the state budget.

Acting Town Manager Jack Healy proposed the idea of splitting the shortfalls at a December Board of Finance meeting, since the amounts are proportional to the percentage of the town’s $85.2 million budget they account for.

“The council could direct a different split,” Finance Director Kevin Delaney told The Herald.

Brian Benigni, who will become school superintendent on Tuesday after the retirement of David Erwin, told The Herald it would be up to the council to determine a number to cut before any decision can be made.

“Do we have money or do we need to cut people immediately for the rest of the year?” Benigni said is the question determining how the district will make up lost funds.

The school board is already holding off on filling Benigni’s current assistant superintendent position, which has a $175,000 salary, until July 1, as well as other positions.

The cuts from Malloy come after the state legislature passed a budget in October, but left specific details on where the cuts would come to the governor.

The bulk of the mitigation - $700 million - will come from expected savings from the state employee labor concession agreement.

Delaney said he wasn’t sure how additional cuts from Malloy - $50 million across the state - would impact the town as details haven’t been produced.

The additional cuts, coupled with a state sales tax increase and other measures, were additional steps Malloy took to mitigate the state’s deficit.

“The cuts are tough,” said Delaney.

Other options the town’s finance board discussed to make up for the current shortfall included implementing a supplemental tax bill, using reserve funds or revising the adopted budget, but Delaney and the Board of Finance advised against them.

If a supplemental tax bill needs to be implemented, it would have to be before Feb. 1 and in the amount of $48.17 for a house valued at $250,000 to account for the difference. Residents in town already received a 2.4 percent tax increase, or additional $140 levy on a home valued at $250,000, when the budget was already passed in May.

Using reserve funds could hurt starting future capital projects that are reimbursable by the state and revising the adopted budget would require another referendum, which costs approximately $5,000 to $7,000 to approve it, Delaney said.

“It will be up to the Board of Ed to decide exactly where the cuts are made,” said Delaney, as the council can request the cuts but how the cuts are made is left to the school board.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers of Town Hall, 240 Kensington Road.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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



Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Sunday, 31 December 2017 21:02. Updated: Sunday, 31 December 2017 21:05.