Southington council puts charter deadline aside, pushes budget vote to June 12

Southington council puts charter deadline aside, pushes budget vote to June 12


SOUTHINGTON — The Town Council unanimously voted to postpone adopting a budget until after the deadline set by Town Charter, hoping for better information on what money might come to Southington from the state.

Town leaders have complained over the past few months about the difficulty of creating a budget when the funding they’ll receive from the state is unknown. On Monday, the deadline for adopting a budget, according to the Town Charter, councilors voted to instead adopt a budget on June 12.

Town Manager Garry Brumback said the state won’t necessarily have a budget by then but was told by House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, that there would be “better clarity” in a month.

“We believe that there’ll be better information at that point,” Brumback said.

Town Attorney Mark Sciota said he felt comfortable with breaking the charter deadline since there was legal precedent to do so in unique circumstances.

Town Council Chairman Michael Riccio, a Republican, said the state “almost daily switches gears on where the budget’s at.”

“They’re at a point where they’re not really sure what’s going on,” he said.

Delaying for a month could help the council create a budget “the right way,” particularly in regard to what funding the town’s school system would receive from the state, Riccio added.

Town Councilor John Barry, a Democrat, said he wasn’t opposed to pushing back the budget vote.

“I don’t know if we’ll really know more in June but I don’t think there’s any harm in waiting,” he said.

While the town will be able to manage this year, Barry said structural changes needed to be made and spending reduced since future years would also be lean for the state. He said town hiring and bonding needs to be curtailed.

Riccio said restructuring has been going on for the past few years.

“Over the last two to three years, to the management’s credit, with our support, we saw departments being combined and multiple six-figure salaries in upper management saved through combining,” he said. “We’ve been structuring our management over the past two or three years to streamline things.”

Riccio said the town is also pulling back on some capital projects, calling the budget situation “dire” at the state level.

He was supportive of the vote to delay the budget but wasn’t present to cast his vote at that portion of Monday’s meeting.

The Board of Finance approved a budget last month that would increase taxes nearly 3 percent and set aside $3 million in a contingency for unexpected state cuts. It also would use $2.2 million from the town’s reserves for capital projects.

Total spending would be $143.44 million for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The board agreed to $87.3 million for education and $56.1 million for general government. 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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