SOUTHINGTON - Town councilors on Monday praised Town Manager Mark Sciotaâ€™s proposed budget.
Republicans and Democrats alike complimented Sciota on his first budget.
His proposed general government budget for fiscal year 2018-19 is $53,355,066, a 1.96 percent increase over last yearâ€™s budget.
This includes the establishment of a $1 million contingency fund to better prepare for and act as a buffer against unexpected cuts in state assistance.
â€śI donâ€™t have much faith in the numbers that the governorâ€™s office has currently put out,â€ť said Sciota.
Aside from the contingency fund, the budget represents a small increase of $7,281 over last year.
Without the contingency fund, this would have been only a 0.01 percent increase.
â€śThis would not have been possible without the hard work of our department heads doing the heavy lifting and following my direction to run as lean as possible during this challenging economic time,â€ť said Sciota. â€śItâ€™s easy to give direction but itâ€™s sometimes very difficult to follow. I canâ€™t thank them enough, this is a budget I can be very proud of.â€ť
Sciota clarified that while he is not happy to have to â€ścut back on many programs we would have liked to do,â€ť but said that he is proud of the budget given the economic climate.
Town Council Chairman Chris Palmieri congratulated Sciota on his budget.
â€śWhen I saw the budget, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised,â€ť he said. â€śThis was truly made possible due to your leadership. To have a 0.01 percent increase in the operating budget is completely unheard of.â€ť
Councilor Victoria Triano also praised the proposal.
â€śI too was pleasantly surprised when I saw how the hard work of our many department heads paid off,â€ť she said.
Councilor Dawn Miceli said that, as a former journalist who covered towns starting at 24, she has never seen a $7,000 operational budget increase.
â€śThis is a good budget,â€ť said Councilor John Barry. â€śPeople are demanding that the government work in a way that is efficient and effective without tax increases,â€ť he said. â€śI think residents will look at this budget and see that it is respectful of them.â€ť
Barry said that the town would likely have a clearer picture of the state budget by April.
The Board of Education previously proposed a $96,816,329 budget. That budget would be a 2.77 percent increase over last year. School Superintendent Timothy Connellan has said that the increase would be necessary to prevent programs and teaching positions from being cut.
The Board of Finance will hold a public hearing on the budget March 13 at DePaolo Middle School. It will vote on March 28. The council will have a public hearing April 23 and vote n May 14.
The Board of Finance will set the property tax rate May 16.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org