PLAINVILLE — A budget proposal presented by Town Manager Robert Lee would come with a nearly 4 percent increase in spending.
The public will be able to comment on the $62.2 million request at a public hearing scheduled for Thursday and the Town Council will be holding daily budget workshops next week at 6 p.m. to revise the budget. A mill rate of 35.07 would be required to sustain that level of spending, a 1.23 mill increase that would amount to a $169 tax increase for the owner of a home assessed at 137,200, the average assessment in town.
That proposal is made up of a $1.23 million increase in the Board of Education’s budget, a $471,000 up in general government spending, $334,000 of additional debt payments and $150,000 higher capital funding, which is largely for building and road maintenance.
“I think it’s a good start,” Lee said. “I feel good about where the budget stands right now.”
Teacher salaries accounted for the largest portion of the school budget increase at nearly $900,000. Superintendent Maureen Brummett said the district opted to extend the teachers’ existing contract into a fourth year, trading a higher than normal compensation increase for savings in legal fees and ensuring that all parties agree to join the state run insurance plan along with the town.
The cost of that new plan also represents a nearly $300,000 increased cost to the school system. Lee is estimating an 8 percent increase in the cost healthcare costs for the town. He said the cost increase is still substantially lower than remaining self-insured, as the cost twould have jumped by as 60 percent due to a higher-than-expected number of large claims recently.
Lee also added $108,000 in school spending after the Board of Education approved its budget Feb. 11 to compensate for Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposal that municipalities cover a portion of their teachers’ pension costs.
Around half of the general government spending increase is for employee compensation, which average out to around 2 percent. Police compensation, including overtime and pensions, is increasing $422,000 in part due to a number of retirees being being replaced by recruits who need to go through the police academy, Lee said. While on paper they are officers, the training period requires other officers to work more overtimes.
While debt payments are budgeted to rise $334,000, bringing next years payment to $4.73 million, the town will offset that with savings from years when payments were lowers.
The major capital expenses include a $221,000 dump truck, $158,000 in police dispatch center upgrades and two new police cruisers. Some larger projects, such as a $1.6 million overhaul of Town Line Road, would be reimbursed with state grants.
The budget includes no new positions. While the increase is larger than the town has received in recent years, Lee said the town is in the position to take on some larger projects because of an improved economy, falling unemployment, and a rising median household income.
“The economy in Plainville is different than it was several years ago. It’s a lot better,” he said.
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