SOUTHINGTON - The Town Council held a public hearing on the proposed 2017-18 budget Monday, which calls for a 0.84-mill increase in taxes due to the impact of state budget cuts.
The proposed $143.4 million budget includes $56 million for the general government budget and $87.3 million for the Board of Education Budget.
Town Manager Garry Brumback noted that the budget is an 8.16 percent increase over the current year, but had there had been no cuts from the governor’s office or additional expenses in the governor’s budget, this budget would have only gone up by 2.62 percent. The current town budget proposal calls for no additional service levels and adds no new people.
“This has been an extremely difficult year in which to prepare a budget, but I think you will find that all of our departments have done an extraordinary job looking for possible savings and budgeting with the residents in mind,” said Brumback.
Brumback said there are three significant drivers of the budget increase, namely that the town is now responsible for paying $4.5 million toward the Teachers Retirement Fund, the town had its Education Cost Sharing revenue cut by “well over” $5 million and because, “based on past performance by the state,” the town will not be recognizing two grants that they have been previously able to count on: the LOCIP and Town Road Aid grants which accounted for $500,000 each.
“Additionally, the Governor’s budget proposes to us the ability to tax the hospital which they believe would generate more than $486,000, but it is my belief that this would only cause Hartford HealthCare to close Bradley’s door. Therefore, it is my recommendation that we do not take advantage of this taxing opportunity,” said Brumback.
During the public hearing, Brumback said parents spoke for two hours because they were upset with proposed cuts to school programs.
The Board of Education budget calls for cutting middle school sports and a language arts pilot program at local elementary schools in order to recoup $700,000 in reductions from the state.
The Town Council did not take any action on the budget this meeting.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.