11 a.m. update:
The public hearing on the newly revised 2013-14 budget proposal is scheduled for Monday, April 8, at 7 p.m. at the Stonington High School auditorium.
The Board of Finance voted 5-1 Wednesday night to send to the Board of Selectmen a $57,848,062 budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year that represents a .35-mill — or 1.8% — increase over last year's tax rate.
the proposed mill rate from 20.63 mills to 20.52 mills, which would have represented a 1-mill tax hike. On Wednesday, they used money from the town's "Rainy Day" fund, a $250,000 cut to the Board of Education budget and several smaller cuts to bring the mill rate to 19.88.
The board deliberated over several line items early in the meeting, including funding for several community organizations and police equipment.
Some of these smaller cuts included:
- $70,000 for the Director of Planning position
- $50,000 for crack repairs at high school
- $12,500 in unleaded gasoline savings
- $10,000 from the Plan of Conservation and Development allotment
- $5,000 for town paving
- $5,000 for town hall facilities
- $5,000 for water testing
- $1,000 for consumables
- $500 for postage
- $500 for clerical
- $500 for canine
Board members then discussed at length a proposal by Chairman Glenn Frishman to take $1 million from the Undesignated Fund Balance to reduce the tax burden. Board member Sandy Grimes said he wanted to procure $1.3 million from the fund, which currently has a balance of more than $11 million, but after much discussion and some expert number-crunching by Finance Director Maryanna Stevens, the board settled on $1.2 million.
Frishman moved on to the education budget, proposing a $300,000 reduction to move the mill-rate hike closer to the desired .25, but others demurred.
"I'm not afraid to send it to the voters a little higher. I'm not sure I can agree to cut the Board of Ed 300 (thousand)," board member John O'Brien said. "I'd rather see it at 200 or 250. And I'm willing to roll the dice and give it to the voters."
The finance board reduced the Board of Education hit to $250,000. The school board now has to decide where it will apply the cuts.
Here's a breakdown of the department totals that comprised the spending plan that was sent to the Board of Selectmen:
- General Government: $18,641,269
- Board of Education: $33,633,623
- Debt Service: $4,569,159
- Capital Projects: $1,004,011
The budget next goes to a public hearing on a date set by the selectmen, then to a town meeting, and ultimately to a referendum.