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Middlefield budget includes slight spending decrease

Middlefield budget includes slight spending decrease

reporter photo

Middlefield First Selectman Edward Bailey released a $16.8 million budget proposal Monday, March 4 with a slight decrease in spending from last year’s approved budget. 

Bailey’s budget represents a spending decrease of $41,362, or 0.24 percent, for a total $16,843,768. The 2018-19 budget totaled $16,885,130. 

The mill rate was reduced by 1.13 mills, from 34.49 to 33.37. A mill equals $1 in property tax per every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value. 

For the owner of a home assessed at $162,000 – the average assessment in town – their tax burden would be around $5,400, with about $4,000 going toward the Board of Education and $1,500 toward the town. 

Middlefield is responsible for the costs of students enrolled in Regional School District 13, a total that comes to around $11,914,492 this year, which is a slight decrease from last year.

The district’s Board of Education is funded by both Middlefield and Durham. The superintendent’s 2019-20 budget proposal proposes a very minimal increase of less than half a percent, totaling $35,502,062.

The town’s 2018 grand list also has been released, and showed an increase of more than 2 percent. The increased grand list assessment would generate an estimated $363,400 in new revenue, based on the proposed new mill rate of 33.37.

New Personnel

Bailey has been in communication with the town of Durham about sharing a town planner, who would work 20 hours a week in both towns. The responsibilities are currently completed by a consultant who is paid hourly, for roughly 10 hours a week.

The shared town planner is represented in the first selectman’s proposed budget for $60,000 in the land use and health department. The new hire would ideally be qualified as a town planner, zoning enforcement officer and wetlands enforcement officer. 

Bailey is also proposing the hiring of a part-time facilities manager for $12,898, which would cover about four to six hours a week. 

“I thought it would be a good idea to have someone, limited hours, a half a day a week basically, just spearheading maintenance work, things that have to be done and task our other town staff with (projects),” Bailey said.

He said repair and maintenance arrangements have long been made by various staff members, including himself, who may not have any experience in the task or may not have the time to spare. The part-time manager would be the point person to handle the completion of a backlog of infrastructure projects in town buildings and parks.  

The budget also shows a decrease in police spending by about $32,600, which is accounted for in payroll decreases due to state-regulated salaries, and not to any decrease in staffing or resources, according to Bailey. 

Capital Improvements

The budget represents capital fund transfers of about $785,000, up from around $677,000 last year, which will largely go toward building maintenance and improvements this year. 

“The Board of Finance has asked me to come up with a plan to properly maintain and invest in our infrastructure, in our buildings in particular,” Bailey said. “So we can set aside our funds so we can do all the necessary repairs to these buildings to keep them functioning ...”

The funds will go toward projects at Peckham Park like replacing the pavilion roof and basketball court. 

About $119,000 would go toward community center improvements, to keep the 25-year-old building up to date with interior paint and repaired flooring.  “We have a whole host of projects in that building to keep it going, I hope, for another 25 years,” Bailey said. 

Bailey was expected to present his proposed budget to the Board of Finance during a Wednesday, March 14 public hearing.

Twitter: @baileyfaywright