Fairfield officials suspend budget process
FAIRFIELD — Town budget proceedings have ground to a halt, and officials are looking at options for getting it approved during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press conference Wednesday, First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said the budget process had been temporarily interrupted.
“I want to push the pause button to work to make modifications to government operations and public safety, which was more complicated than people realized,” Kupchick said. “Now that we’ve had a chance to briefly come up for air, I am working with my administration, town attorney and (Information Technology) Department to develop a process for all boards, commissions and town bodies to meet virtually.”
Kupchik said it was important for the town to have an approved budget as soon as possible because of the need for long-term planning during and after the pandemic.
“We are working to set up systems so that the Board of Finance and (Representative Town Meeting) can act and vote on a budget without meeting in person,” Kupchick said.
The first selectwoman said public meetings are not required because of an executive order from Gov. Ned Lamont, but that public input via email would still be welcomed. She said budget updates would be provided as soon as possible.
James Brown, finance board chairman, said the town was considering taking advantage of the state’s deadline extension for municipal budgets but the town attorney would need to determine if an extension was necessary.
Selectman Thomas Flynn said the the administration is in the process of evaluating the impact coronavirus will have on the town’s financial position for the remainder of this fiscal year as well as next year.
The $327,497,024 budget is an increase of $11 million from the year before and calls for a 2.58 percent tax hike. It has already been approved by the Board of Selectmen and was being looked at by the Board of Finance when town meetings were canceled.