Selectmen vote to keep budget total as is
FAIRFIELD — Page by page and department by department, First Selectman Mike Tetreau went through the proposed Fiscal Year 2018-19 municipal budget.
And each time, the budgets made it through with no cuts — even the Board of Education’s $173 million spending plan. The town’s side of the proposed budget is $131.6 million and the vote to adopt the $305 million total budget was unanimous.
The selectmen on Monday made some adjustments to certain revenue lines and expenses based on new information. For example, the school board was able to reduce its budget by $252,000 because of savings in a new bus contract and pensions. But as far as discussions to cut particular line items in order to reduce the budget, there were none.
“I really want to thank the department heads for putting together what I consider a good budget,” Selectman Chris Tymniak said. “The 2.48 percent (increase) is right at the rate of inflation.”
If there are no further changes to the budget, it translates to a tax increase of 2.48 percent and means a mill rate of 26.46. The Board of Finance was expected to vote on the budget on Thursday and the Representative Town Meeting votes in May.
Tymniak said there were some issues that came up during the budget discussions, such as growing the town’s grand list of taxable property.
“We had a lengthy conversation on what should we be doing,” he said. “That’s something I think we really want to keep an eye on.”
“It’s lean, it’s tight, but it provides the quality services our town expects and demands,” Selectman Kevin Kiley said. He said 2.48 percent is a reasonable number. “Everyone would like zero,” Kiley said, but “we’ve come to the middle with a good, lean, compromise budget I’m prepared to support.”
Tetreau cautioned that while the town has been able to cushion the impact of decreased state revenue, the loss of those funds does have an immediate impact on services.
“Our department managers are doing more with less,” Tetreau said. “As much as we are very focused on mitigating the impact of revenue loss on our citizens, that isn’t saying there’s no impact. We have not been doing as much paving as we normally would, we have have not buying as much heavy duty vehicles for Public Works as we would plan to do.”
He said many departments are running on low staffing levels.
Tetreau also said he wanted to recognize the work done by department managers over the summer, coming up with savings and additional revenue that totaled about $2 million.
“They replaced GE as tax revenue,” Tetreau said, “but we still have lost a tremendous amount from state revenue.”
General Electric last year moved its corporate headquarters from property on Easton Turnpike to Boston, and sold the campus to the Sacred Heart University.