Stonington’s Board of Finance members may be the only residents in town opposed to higher taxes and spending money. At least they were in the minority at last night’s public hearing on the budget.
After the public hearing the Stonington Board of Finance agreed to spend $300,000 in the undesignated fund balance with $150,000 going back to the school budget and $150,000 going to mill rate reduction. Voters will have their say on the $57,133,696 2012-2013 budget first at an April 30 Town Meeting and then at the May 8 budget referendum. If accepted the mill rate will raise 0.42 mills to 16.05 an almost double increase from the 2011-2012 budget.
But the potential increase in taxes, a homeowner with a house appraised at $200,000 would pay an additional $84 in taxes, didn’t seem to worry those at the public hearing.
Speaker after speaker urged the town to . Many of those who spoke said they would accept higher taxes and/or spending some of the money in the town’s undesignated fund balance if it meant saving town services.
“It’s time for us to stop the little tax holiday and take a risk,” said one speaker in favoring of restoring money to the school budget. Another questioned, “when do we stop accumulating the reserve fund, let’s use the reserve fund for what it's there for, tough times.”
View a selection of the video short takes from some of the residents who spoke in favor of saving the school budget in the video gallery.
While most of the speakers were there to urge the board to restore the proposed schools’ budget several people also spoke in favor of giving more to the .
Board of Finance members disagreed over how much money to give the library with Sandy Grimes proposing giving an additional $5,000 to the Mystic & Noank Library. In the end the board did not make any changes to the library funds.
Grimes abstained from voting on the changes to the budget and board member Andrew Rines voted no. Board members Bryan Bentz, Glenn Frishman, John O’Brien and Dudley Wheeler voted in favoring of taking the $300,000 from the reserve fund and restoring $150,000 to the schools.
A full copy of the proposed 2012-2013 budget will be available on the town website.