First Selectman Pat Llodra and various officials from the Boards of Education and Finance and the Legislative Council will be available to hear from and respond to taxpayer questions during the final two open office sessions at Newtown Municipal Center.
The Board of Education was informed at its meeting on Tuesday, May 7, the district has implemented a budget freeze for the current spending year.
With the end of the current fiscal year approaching, Acting Superintendent of Schools John Reed and district Business Director Ronald Bienkowski explained why the school district has implemented a budget freeze that will only allow costs that are considered “musts” to go through.
After 12/14, Newtown was the closest, most kind, loving and generous community. That has helped my family and other families to begin the healing process, but now we are in the dreaded and divisive budget season.
The First Selectmen’s Office will be open for extended hours beginning May 6 for residents who wish to discuss the second-round budget proposal heading for the May 14 referendum.
According to a release from First Selectman Patricia Llodra, representatives of the Legislative Council, Board of Education, and Board of Finance may be on hand during several of the sessions, and will available to answer questions and hear concerns.
It is not uncommon for people working in a newspaper office to hear themselves described by others as having their fingers on the pulse of the town. But from where we sit, the business of community assessment and diagnosis is not as simple as that. Newtown’s lifeblood flows from myriad hearts beating, at times, in cacophonous syncopation. And rarely is it more difficult to discern what the heart of the town is telling us than in the wake of a failed budget referendum.
Newtown has been the object of countless acts of generosity since 12/14. Whether through sympathy or a sense of kinship — that we’re all in this difficult and dangerous world together — perfect strangers have declared themselves citizens of the emotional territory of Newtown and have done their part to support through donations, both cash and in-kind, Newtown’s future recovery. Next Tuesday, Newtown’s actual citizens will have to declare themselves on the matter of the town’s future by voting on a budget.
In a 9-3 vote April 3, the Legislative Council moved a budget request of $111,149,825 to an April 23 referendum. If approved the budget would increase spending about 4.7 percent over the current year, while generating a 5.24 percent tax increase according to Town Finance Director Robert Tait.
Because of this year’s revaluation, with average property values dropping markedly, an approved budget would bump the current 24.54 mill rate to 33.77. A mill represents one dollar in taxation for every $1,000 in taxable property.
Following the shortest public budget hearing in recent memory, the council will take up deliberations on the 2013-14 proposal with the possibility of acting on the request as early as April 3, according to council Chairman Jeff Capeci.
Only three citizens addressed the council during the approximately 20-minute session. In previous years, public hearings have swelled to the extent that they were held in the high school lecture room and auditorium.