Bud­gets en route to bal­lot box

Sev­eral Dan­bury-area spend­ing plans to be de­cided Tues­day

The News-Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ka­t­rina Ko­ert­ing

Red­ding’s bud­get could be the trick­i­est to pass — but spend­ing plans for Dan­bury, Bethel and Re­gion 12 all go to the bal­lot box Tues­day.

With a his­tory of vot­ing down bud­gets with larger in­creases, Red­ding res­i­dents are fac­ing a bud­get that calls for more money in the town, schools and Re­gion 9 bud­gets for an over­all in­crease of $1.73 mil­lion. The bal­lot also calls for all three to be grouped to­gether in one lump sum, though vot­ers also vote on Re­gion 9’s bud­get in­de­pen­dently.And this is the sec­ond at­tempt for the Bethel bud­get, which failed April 11.

Brookfield also will hold a town meet­ing in Brookfield High School’s au­di­to­rium at 7 p.m. Tues­day to dis­cuss its $70 mil­lion bud­get.

Here’s a look at the dif­fer­ent bud­gets be­ing de­cided Tues­day:

Dan­bury

Dan­bury City Coun­cil will con­sider a $261.5 mil­lion bud­get at its reg­u­lar meet­ing, which be­gins at 7:30 p.m.

Mayor Mark Boughton’s pro­posed bud­get is $4.5 mil­lion, or 1.8 per­cent more than this year. It keeps the tax rate level, while in­creas­ing fund­ing for schools and roads.

The big­gest bud­get driv­ers are salaries, pen­sions and benefits for cur­rent and re­tired em­ploy­ees.

We didn’t just skimp, cut, slam and say ‘Too bad, ev­ery­one isn’t go­ing to get what they want, what they need and what they de­sire,’” Boughton said dur­ing an ear­lier bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion. “We have a bud­get that’s thought­ful and mea­sured and ad­dresses the needs of the com­mu­nity.”

The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion ac­counts for $134.4 mil­lion of the bud­get, or $5.2 mil­lion more than this year. The district is get­ting $2.2 mil­lion more in lo­cal fund­ing and $2.4 mil­lion more in Al­liance grant fund­ing. The for­mer Ma­trix site is also ex­pected to gen­er­ate $550,000 in stu­dent im­pact fees.

The bud­get in­cludes $4.5 mil­lion for road work, in­clud­ing paving, fix­ing pot­holes, in­stalling guardrails and im­prov­ing drainage.

There are also sev­eral pub­lic safety items, in­clud­ing re­plac­ing Tasers, up­grad­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment, con­tin­u­ing the ve­hi­cle rollover pro­gram and buy­ing a res­cue ves­sel for Can­dle­wood Lake that the fire and po­lice de­part­ments will be able to use.

Im­prov­ing the down­town by en­hanc­ing the streetscap­e and adding more po­lice pa­trols in the sum­mer are also in the bud­get.

Red­ding

Vot­ers will con­sider a nearly $51 mil­lion bud­get, which is about $1.73 mil­lion more than the cur­rent bud­get and in­cludes in­creases in the se­lect­men, school board and Re­gion 9 bud­gets.

The big bud­get driv­ers are pen­sions, so­cial se­cu­rity and other con­trac­tual in­creases, as well as salaries and spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion on the schools’ side.

It in­cludes nearly $15 mil­lion for the se­lect­men, which is about $292,000, or

1.98 per­cent, more than the cur­rent bud­get.

The Red­ding Board of Ed­u­ca­tion bud­get is nearly

$22.1 mil­lion, which is about $938,000, or 4.44 per­cent, more than the cur­rent bud­get. This is less than the 4.69 per­cent in­crease ini­tially approved by the school board, which over­sees the el­e­men­tary and mid­dle schools. This pro­posed bud­get re­in­states Span­ish at the el­e­men­tary school.

Red­ding’s share of the Re­gion 9 bud­get is $13.9 mil­lion, which is about

$505,000 more than the cur­rent year, though the over­all bud­get is the same. This is be­cause the cost is split pro­por­tion­ally be­tween Eas­ton and Red­ding based on the num­ber of stu­dents each town has at Joel Bar­low High School.

Vot­ers will also be asked to ap­prove up to $2.5 mil­lion for the po­lice and fire radio up­grades and

$400,000 for the Sta­tion Road bridge project. The town plans to bor­row for both though there could be some state money as well.

Re­gion 12

Re­gion 12’s $22.8 mil­lion bud­get, is head­ing to ref­er­en­dum in the district’s three towns, split­ting it pro­por­tion­ally based on en­roll­ment.

This means Wash­ing­ton will pay $10.6 mil­lion for the bud­get, Roxbury will cover $7.75 mil­lion and Bridge­wa­ter is re­spon­si­ble

for $4.45 mil­lion.

The over­all bud­get is 4.57 per­cent higher than the cur­rent bud­get, largely due to the new agri­science academy pro­gram that be­gins this fall. The bulk of the in­crease will be off­set though by the rev­enue the pro­gram gen­er­ates.

Con­trac­tual per­son­nel in­creases are an­other bud­get driver. Salaries ac­count for $12.8 mil­lion, or 56.2 per­cent of the over­all bud­get and 1.18 per­cent more than last year. Benefits ac­count for $3.67 mil­lion, or 16.1 per­cent of the over­all bud­get, which is 6.19 per­cent more than the cur­rent year.

An­other bud­get driver is the up­grades to the district’s build­ings, to­tal­ing about $434,000, up from the $21,900 in­cluded in the cur­rent bud­get.

Bethel

The town bud­get re­turns to vot­ers, this time with $385,000 less, bring­ing the new mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing bud­get $31.6 mil­lion.

The orig­i­nal pro­posal was nar­rowly re­jected last month. The $46.4 mil­lion school and $1 mil­lion cap­i­tal bud­gets were approved ear­lier this month and won’t be voted on again.

With this new bud­get, the tax rate would in­crease by 1.65 per­cent and mu­nic­i­pal spend­ing would rise by 6.9 per­cent. The pre­vi­ous plan would have raised the tax rate by 2.24 per­cent. Com­bined town and school bud­gets would be just un­der $78 mil­lion.

The Po­lice De­part­ment, Se­nior Cen­ter, school main­te­nance and Parks and Recre­ation De­part­ment saw the bulk of the cuts.

Debt from the po­lice sta­tion and el­e­men­tary school ren­o­va­tion projects is still the big­gest bud­get driver, with the debt ser­vice in­creas­ing 25 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year. The board

But the Fi­nance Board voted to use the $285,000 the town ex­pects to re­ceive from the state to pay off some of th­ese loans, bring­ing debt ser­vice costs to $4.9 mil­lion, down from the $5.2 mil­lion in the pre­vi­ous pro­posal.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia file photo

Red­ding Town Hall. Red­ding res­i­dents are fac­ing a bud­get that calls for more money in the town, schools and Re­gion 9 bud­gets for an over­all in­crease of $1.73 mil­lion.

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