SOUTHINGTON — Town Manager Mark Sciota has proposed a $53.4 million town budget for fiscal year 2019, a 2.4-percent increase over the current year’s spending plan.
The budget includes a $1.7 million one-time capital expenditure of surplus funds to cover four municipal projects. It also includes funding for two new firefighters and a reduction of one clerical position.
“All of our departments have done an extraordinary job looking for possible savings and budgeting with our residents in mind,” Sciota wrote in his letter to the Board of Finance.
The Board of Education in late January approved a budget proposal of $100.2 million, a 4.6 percent increase over the current budget of $95.8 million.
If approved as is, the budget reflects a .88 mill increase from 30.48 to 31.36. A mill equals $1 in property tax per every $1,000 of a property's taxable value. At that rate, the owner of a home assessed at $150,000 would pay $4,704, an increase of $132 over the current year.
The Board of Finance began budget workshops for the library, Barnes Museum, Economic Development, Director of Assessments and Revenue and the police department Tuesday and will continue hearings with other departments Wednesday.
A public hearing on the town and education proposals is set for March 4 at 7 p.m. at DePaolo Middle School.
The general government budget increased by $1.2 million for operations, and sets a contingency of $850,000.
A $600,000 increase to the town’s contributions to the municipal employee retirement system surprised town officials and equates to more than 1 percent of the total budget.
Sciota explained the increase is due to a reduction in the state pension contribution.
Additionally, the amount the town would pay toward teacher pension costs under a proposal in Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget is estimated to be $270,000. The amount offsets the $18,398 increase in total state aid, Sciota stated in the letter. Next year, the governor’s proposed budget bills Southington $530,000 for teacher’s pension contributions.
“We don’t know if it’s going to go, but we have to put it in the budget,” Sciota said of the proposed pension contributions.
The increase in the town’s taxable grand list, valued at $4 billion, raised $1.8 million in additional revenue.
Dawn Miceli, vice chairwoman of the Town Council, plans to go through all 209 pages of Sciota’s budget.
“The municipal side is pretty lean pickings as it is,” Miceli said. “This will be a fiscally prudent year for me.”
The cuts in town aid were not as deep as she feared.
“While it’s not great, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised it wasn’t much different,” Miceli said. “Again those numbers are fluid. I don’t hold much weight in a lot of it until it gets solidified by our lawmakers.”