After two referendums and months of negotiations, the Town Council has adopted a budget after making additional cuts Monday night.
The final budget allocates $43.6 million to the Board of Education and $44.3 million in general government funding, with a 32.5 mill rate.
The four council Republicans moved to make $500,000 in cuts over the objections of their Democratic counterparts and passed on a deal put forth by the Board of Finance last week.
"My opinion is that we need to listen to the voters and it needs to come down a little bit,” said Councilor Alex Giannone. “And, again, I think we can responsibly reduce it by a little bit more, and I mean a little bit.”
Cuts include $300,000 in school funding and $125,000 for upgrades to phone systems at Berlin High School and the elementary schools. On the town side, $39,000 for a police cruiser and $37,000 for a school van was nixed.
Mayor Mark Kaczynski said he believes the Board of Education can absorb the $300,000 without eliminating programs.
Kaczynski was opposed to including increased state education cost sharing grants in the budget as a way of creating a buffer should school costs run over later in the year.
"I think they've got enough money to get them through most of the year, maybe all of the year," he said. If the ECS grants are not tapped into, Kaczynski said they could likely be used to pay down some of the town’s debt obligations.
“I think the mayor really was irresponsible to say something like that,” Board of Finance Chairperson Sam Lomaglio said, adding that if Kaczynski believed the school system could face a shortfall it should have been properly funded. “I call that voodoo-economics. That’s not a true budget.”
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.