It may not have been the popular decision but after an hour of debate, the Town Council voted unanimously Monday evening to approve a $125.02 million budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year without restoring any funding.
Council members debated whether to restore $11,000 to the Parks account for assistance in funding operations at the YMCA Camp Sloper Skate Park and $15,000 for bathroom repairs at Memorial Park, but both failed to receive the six votes required by town charter to have the items restored to the budget.
Councilman Peter Romano said while he is in support of both projects, it wouldn’t be fair to pick and choose what can be restored and with tough economic conditions, cuts had to be made.
“Just because we have found some extra money, it doesn’t mean we need to or should put it back in budget,” Romano said. “There are other youth projects that were cut and I’m so hard pressed to see how pick and choose one thing back in and not another.”
The budget passed Monday represents a 1.28 percent increase over the current fiscal year’s operating budget, with a 4.2 percent increase to the town and a 0.39 percent increase in Board of Education funding.
The town’s operating budget is set at $45.3 million while the Board of Education will use an operating budget of $79.7 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
It was the first time in more than a decade that a budget was passed unanimously at each level, with the Board of Education, Board of Finance and Town Council all coming to a consenus.
The Town Council was able to reduce the budget presented by the Board of Finance by an additional $178,000 Monday night, a savings realized thanks to a reduction in administrative fees and costs associated with service by Anthem Blue Cross.
The approved budget, if funding from the state remains level, would mean an increase to taxpayers of just .27 mills according to members of the Board of Finance. This would mean an increase of $27 for homes assessed at $100,000 or $81 for homes assessed at $300,000.
The Board of Finance must first look at revenues in detail, Finance member john Moise said, and could still change before it is set by the Board of Finance on Wednesday.
“There is still some uncertainty in the revenue stream and we need to look closely at that before we can set the rate,” Moise said after the meeting.
Gov. Dannel Malloy said last week that with the budget passed at the state level, Southington could be in line for an additional $400,000 in state funding – part of $2 billion that could be presented to Connecticut municipalities.
Council Chairman Edward Pocock III cautioned members of the Board of Finance not to consider the money incoming revenue until the town has received it, however, and said if received the additional state funding could be used to help balance what is expected to be a tough budget cycle for the 201-13 fiscal year.
“We’ve heard these kind of promises before,” Pocock said. “It’s not guaranteed just yet and $2 billion is a lot of money to come up with.”
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