SOUTHINGTON — Board of Finance members said they’re pleased with budget requests from town departments, which the panel began examining during workshops Tuesday night.
The town’s fiscal year 2018-19 budget of $52,355,066 includes $1 million of contingency funds but only increases operating expenses by .01 percent. Town Manager Mark Sciota said the contingency money would go towards any shortfall in state funding.
Sciota said department heads presented spending requests that maintained services but didn’t increase costs.
“I didn’t have to do much cutting. My department heads did the work for me,” Sciota said.
On Tuesday, the board heard presentations from Lou Perillo, economic development coordinator, and Police Chief Jack Daly and Deputy Police Chief William Palmieri. Neither department included new programs in its budget.
“They did what they were asked,” said Ed Pocock Jr., a finance board member.
Increases in the police budget included $121,000 in wages mandated by contract, Palmieri said. Other portions of the department’s budget decreased, such as emergency management costs.
Perillo’s budget included money for contracted services, which he said can help the town bring in businesses. He also budgeted $35,000 for marketing.
“I think it’s going to become more important to do promotions, to validate everything that’s going on in the town,” Perillo said.
Tony Morrison, a finance board member, said the town could only improve its financial position by growing its business base. He asked Perillo if the economic development department had enough money.
“For what’s available, I think we do for the time being,” Perillo said.
The school board last month approved a $96,816,329 budget request by a 7-1 vote after taking nearly $500,000 off a spending plan proposed by School Superintendent Tim Connellan. School officials say the budget is needed to maintain current services and that the requested 2.77 percent increase is necessary to prevent cutting teachers and programs.
Both the town and school budgets go to the Board of Finance and then to the Town Council.