A tight Fairfield budget hits DPW the hardest
FAIRFIELD — The town side $131.3 million budget proposed by First Selectman Mike Tetreau reflects a lean 1.22 percent increase.
While the bulk of that increase is due to contractual obligations for salaries and benefits, including medical insurance and pension funding, some departments were able to get their capital requests included in the spending plan, which is being reviewed by the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance.
One department, however, saw its capital requests eliminated, for the most part. As it has in past years, Public Works Operations took the largest hit, with its $1,094,700 capital request cut to just $239,000, less than the current $369,000 capital budget.
Under the first selectman’s budget, the department would get $35,000 for small power equipment, like jackhammers and blowers, and $204,000 for a five-wheel dump truck.
Left on the chopping block were a street sweeper, backhoe, payloader, wood chipper, mason truck, work van and truck frame. The department’s sidewalk maintenance account was also cut $20,000, from $100,000 to $80,000, and seasonal payroll went from $161,000 to $111,000.
The Fire Department got the first selectman’s approval for $409,656 worth of equipment, including $106,500 for a command vehicle that initially had been included in the nonrecurring bonding request. Also in the budget is $9,000 for 10 SCBA cylinders, $19,360 for seven sets of protective gear, and $5,200 for hose and water distribution equipment.
Across the street at the Police Department, the first selectman’s budget includes $396,500 for 10 police vehicles and $11,502 for two light bars.
The regular payroll for the entire town budget is up $779,751, while the health self-insurance account increased $663,745. Retiree benefits increased $665,047.
Debt service, the interest paid on outstanding bonds, decreased $1,041,155.
In his presentation to the joint Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen meeting last week, Tetreau said the combined town and school budgets of $305.3 million, a 2.28 percent increase over the current spending plan, meets the challenges facing the town, including long-term obligations.
His budget, Tetreau said, recognizes the need to keep Fairfield affordable, while maintaining valuable town services.
If the budget were to be approved as presented, it would represent a tax rate of 26.46 mills, a 2.48 percent increase. Tetreau said the higher tax increase is due to reduced state revenues.