With a short list of topics to run past the Board of Finance Monday evening, First Selectman Pat Llodra started with the wintry weather. Joking that “we want a mild winter, on Friday through Monday,” she had her eye on the town’s recent snow removal costs. Weekend pay is time and a half on Saturdays, and double time on Sundays. She told the Board of Finance that, “We have experienced quite a drain already.”
Noting that a number of “bright, informed” residents are “looking for a gesture from the town,” regarding additional tax relief, Board of Finance Chairman John Kortze stressed that he wanted his “[board members] to have the dialogue” during a January 7 special meeting.
A growing number of officials believe that helping residents better understand the relationship between declining student enrollment and the amount school leaders will ask taxpayers to underwrite next year could help pass the annual budget referendum sooner.
Providing additional evidence to taxpayers that town and district leaders are working collaboratively, and with mutual support for each other’s spending proposals, could also go far toward propelling a first-round budget vote to passage, some officials believe.
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For a little more than an hour during their October 24 meeting, members of the finance board, Acting School Superintendent John Reed and Board of Education Chair Debbie Leidlein conducted a candid discussion about the upcoming budget process. Finance board Chairman John Kortze said he had asked the school officials to visit with his board early on in the process.
A crowd of mostly senior citizens filled seats normally occupied by teenagers in the lecture hall at Newtown High School last week. Turning the tables, they came to do the lecturing to an attentive Board of Finance sitting in front of the class. The subject was property taxes and the lesson was: They’re too high! The face-off seemed inevitable after tax bills went out early last summer, reflecting dramatically higher taxes on dramatically higher assessments for three types of properties, including over-55 condominiums.
During a brief special meeting August 5, the Board of Finance unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the town to appropriate $49,250,000 for the planning, design and construction of a new Sandy Hook School. The finance board also voted to add that construction project – which will be underwritten by state grants – to the Town Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
Prior to the vote, finance Board Chairman John Kortze called on First Selectman Pat Llodra to explain the plans and timeline for moving forward on the new school project.
The Board of Finance heard a detailed presentation from Finance Director Robert Tait on June 10 about the various pending grants a the town is applying for, or has applied for to offset taxpayer expenses related to school security and related measures in the wake of 12/14.
Mr Tait reviewed the documentation ahead of the meeting, beginning with the School Emergency Response to Violence or SERV grant.
The Board of Finance May 13 and the Legislative Council two days later, decided to delay using a budgeted fund balance allocation to offset some projected police overtime costs for school security. At the same time, the finance board and council approved additional transfers to more than cover overtime expenses accrued since April 1.
The Board of Finance turned its eye on the proposed municipal budget at its meeting on Thursday, February 28, and approved a transfer in the current budget to cover costs for software to enable police to monitor videos at Monroe’s Chalk Hill Middle School in real time.