Town officials are looking at ways to improve the budget drafting process after two failed referendums and heated negotiations preceded the adoption of this year’s budget.
Finance Director Kevin Delaney said representatives of the Town Council, Board of Finance and Board of Education will be able to send liaisons to meetings between Delaney and the department heads where they evaluate their needs and make their funding requests.
He said this will help keep all parties informed.
“It doesn’t make sense to bring forward a $5 million capital budget if you know full well” it won’t pass, Delaney said.
This openness also will allow elected officials to share a spending goal department heads would be able to work towards when making their requests.
“The budget would be a little bit closer to what the council and Board of Finance are looking for,” said Mayor Mark Kaczynski. “It would be helpful and probably eliminate some time that we spend going through it.”
“There’s a lot of hurdles that we have to cross for next year,” said Board of Finance Chairperson Sam Lomaglio. He agrees that greater communication during the budget drafting process would be an improvement, but said the public needs to be included in the discussions early on as well.
Lomaglio is planning to hold a series of public hearings on the budget process starting in September or October to gain insight into what the public believes is an appropriate level of spending and what belongs in the budget.
“The question is how do we stabilize taxes in Berlin without affecting services,” he said.
“As chairman of the board I need to know if the taxpayers want a pro-growth budget or a status quo budget. We have to open a dialogue with the taxpayers in this community.”