BERLIN – The town may have some tough decisions to make following Gov. Dannel Malloy’s recent municipality “holdbacks,” including a $586,000 reduction to Berlin’s state aid.
“As of today, these are the numbers,” said Kevin Delaney, town finance director, Monday.
Last week, Delaney and the new Board of Finance discussed options to regain lost revenue.
With the cuts, Berlin will be facing a general fund budget shortfall of more than $600,000.
The finance board said it did not want to pursue a supplemental citizen tax which would be equivalent to .3 mills or a one percent increase in the January tax bill.
Hiring freezes were discussed as an alternative option.
“We’re just trying to figure out the cuts,” said Sam Lomaglio, chairman of the finance board. “What can we do with the Board of Education moving forward?”
One suggestion Lomaglio said the board discussed is leaving the assistant superintendent position vacant after current assistant Brian Benigni takes the place of Superintendent David Erwin when he retires in January.
Education board President Matthew Tencza said Tuesday the assistant superintendent position is a “key role” in the district along with the high school principal, currently vacant.
“There are a couple of key roles that need to be filled,” he said.
Tencza was recently appointed as president for the second consecutive year and said one of his goals is to fill the positions.
“We understand that we need to be as fiscally responsible as possible,” he added.
Lomaglio said a primary reason for considering the assistant superintendent position freeze is a decrease in student enrollment throughout the district.
“My goal is to work with the Board of Education on this,” he said.
Currently the Education Cost Sharing grant reduction by the state will be around $890,000 less than what was budgeted for Berlin earlier this year.
Delaney said the biggest impact will come from hiring freezes. The assistant superintendent vacany could potentially save the town $200,000.
Another position that is vacant is the town planner since Hellyn Riggins resigned last month. Delaney said the position has been reconfigured and is currently posted with salary changes.
“We’ve been evaluating various scenarios,” he said. “There’s not one big thing we can point to.”
Other savings include possibly canceling conferences and events during the year.
Revising the adopted 2017-2018 budget is also an option, though it would require a referendum.
Delaney said the town has a solid fund balance with $2.6 million assigned into the budget this past year to offset the mill rate.
Meetings for the next fiscal year budget will begin in January. Lomaglio said the board wants to start “as soon as possible” and will take over the council’s budget workshops with town departments.
“My goal is to be completely transparent on both sides,” Lomaglio said. “This year is going to be very difficult.”