Fairfield Financiers to scrutinize money for outside groups tonight
Each year, the town includes a range of non-profit agencies in the municipal budget, with funding that ranges from $3,000 to $350,000.
Board of Finance Chairman Thomas Flynn said there now is no formal policy on how these agencies have been included in the budget process, so the finance board is setting up a subcommittee to devise such a document. The finance board will vote on establishing the committee when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Education Center, 501 Kings Highway East.
"During the past several budget cycles, we have questioned the first selectman on how agencies were selected to receive funding and if, when or how agencies are taken off the list to receive funding," Flynn said. "The first selectman indicated that the practice predates his service and that he has just carried on the tradition on this item."
Groups receiving money include the Pequot Library, a private institution that got $350,000 for the 2010-11 fiscal year, and Fairfield Counseling Services, which received $175,000. Other large appropriations include $75,000 for Grasmere Eldercare Center, $49,367 for Southwestern Regional Communications, $30,000 for the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, $32,500 for the Fairfield Historical Society and $30,000 for the Greater Bridgeport Transit District. Other groups received appropriations ranging from $3,040 for the Southwestern CT Emergency Medical Council to $18,053 for the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency.
Some of the expenditures are state mandated, such as the transit district and emergency medical council.
"The board has had several discussions about this and many presentations from the private agencies receiving funds through the years," Flynn said. "With the understanding that there is no such thing as a bad charity, we thought it would prudent to get more clarity surrounding the criteria for inclusion in the budget process."
The subcommittee will include a representative from the Board of Selectmen, two members of the Board of Finance and potentially representatives from the Representative Town Meeting as well.
The Board of Finance will also elect new officers at the meeting, and Flynn said he plans to seek another term as chairman.