Fairfield: Board of Finance passes budget with $6.8 million in cuts
FAIRFIELD — The Board of Finance this week voted to approve a revised budget, cutting nearly $7 million in spending and significantly lowering the proposed tax increase.
The Board of Selectman, initially given a $327.4 million proposed budget with a 2.46 percent tax increase, instead approved a $320.6 million spending plan with a tax increase of about 0.4 percent.
Many members of the board said they were happy to have completed the work in spite of the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered businesses, government and schools and caused record unemployment.
“This was one long budget season,” BOF Chairman James Brown said during the board’s recent videoconference, adding that he was proud of the work the board had done. “I hope we never have this type of budget season, at least as long as I’m on this board.”
Member John Mitola said the process was horrible.
Many of the cuts were proposed by department heads. When asked to voluntarily slice budgets, staff came up with $2.68 million in proposed reductions. The board chose $2.31 million of them.
The Department of Public Works saw their budget cut significantly: $1 million eliminated for paving, $334,000 less for capital spending and a $300,000 cut to fleet maintenance.
The board also cut almost $2.3 million in funding from the Board of Education budget: a $468,000 bus contract reduction, $325,000 in pension savings and $1.5 million set aside for a non-lapsing account.
A few jobs were also cut or had salaries decreased, including elimination of a new business development director position with a salary of $130,000. First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchik has said she thought the position would benefit the town’s economic development.
The town’s libraries saw a cut of more than $300,000 stemming from slashes to materials, part-time payroll and other line items.
The RTM is set to vote on the budget June 1. The governing body is permitted to decrease the budget but not increase it. When the budget is approved, the Board of Finance will set the mill rate.