Virus concerns derail vote on Southington town budget

Virus concerns derail vote on Southington town budget

reporter photo

SOUTHINGTON — Unable to reach an agreement on spending for next year, the finance board held off recommending a budget during its meeting this week.

Chairman John Leary said there wasn’t agreement among a majority of the six-member board as to a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Members wanted lower budget increases than those requested by school and town officials or no increased town taxation at all.

“We’ve not reached an area where we’ve reached a consensus,” Leary said.

The board planned to hold a workshop Thursday to negotiate.

Agreement on a budget was close but was derailed by concerns over the financial impacts of the coronavirus.

“We’re in a position here that I’ve never seen before,” Leary said.

Joseph Labieniec, board vice chairman, said there was so much uncertainty with how long quarantines would last and the effect on businesses and residents. He wanted the finance board to give residents at least one firm promise: No tax increase in the upcoming year.

“We’re in unprecedented times,” he said.

Others wanted increases of less than one percent.

Sue Zoni, a board member, said raising spending .82 percent was “the absolute highest” she’d accept.

Some board members and town officials sat spaced out on the dais in council chambers at the John Weichsel Municipal Center Wednesday night. Other members took part in the meeting by phone.

The meeting was live streamed to the public, who could ask questions during the public comment portion of the meeting via email.

Under the spending plan proposed for the upcoming fiscal year, general government and school district spending total $160.1 million, $7 million more than the current year. Property tax rates will rise 1.5 percent under Town Manager Mark Sciota's budget. For a home appraised at $250,000, the median price in Southington, the budget will increase taxes by $79 per year.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

"We’re in a position here that I’ve never seen before."

-John Leary