BERLIN — The Board of Finance laid out a $93.5 million budget recommendation for the fiscal year 2022 recently.
The proposal calls for a 2.7% total increase from the $91.5 million FY 2021 budget, according to Town Manager Arosha Jayawickrema, who presented the draft during a meeting Wednesday night.
For the upcoming fiscal year, the town’s 33.93 mill rate will remain unchanged. The budget draft keeps the mill rate flat by using funds from the $2.02 million received from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
The largest increase in the budget is in salary and benefits. The town requested an additional $447,000 to cover health insurance costs, new position wages, and existing wages net increase.
The budget also calls for a $78,000 increase to cover electricity costs, and an additional $54,000 for trash recycling fees.
Another $387,000 will go towards other expenses, including operating materials, irrigation at Timberlin Golf Course, economic development promotion, computer equipment, and school safety guards.
Jayawickrema said the town is not planning any new borrowing in the upcoming fiscal year.
Under the plan, McGee middle school is set to get an updated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system while Berlin High School will see some improvements to its athletic field. Additionally, the schools will get updated fire alarms, new vans, and ADA upgrades, including new ramps.
Some of the town roads and bridges will also be repaired. Other important town initiatives include the upcoming Steele Center on Farmington Avenue and a Berlin Turnpike Development.
Town Council is scheduled to vote to adopt or reject the budget on April 27.
“We still have our little Berlin. It has gotten through the pandemic I think relatively well compared to many places,” Mayor Mark Kaczynksi said at the end of the budget presentation. “But we still have people who have suffered, who have lost jobs, who lost loved ones. I think people are still suffering, businesses are still hurting.”
Despite the pandemic, Kaczynski noted, the town welcomed several small businesses while a few large businesses expanded.
“I think there are brighter days ahead for our economy in Berlin and I think we are really fortunate where we and where we are headed,” said Kaczynski.