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Finance Board Holds Virtual Budget Hearing



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Over the course of two meetings February 8 and 11, members of the Board of Finance heard presentations of the town and school budget proposals for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

(See coverage and details of each budget as they developed at newtownbee.com.)

February 11 was also an opportunity for the finance board to hear from constituents during a virtual public hearing. Because of a technical issue, the hearing was not broadcast live on the Newtown’s YouTube channel, but was quickly shifted to Zoom.

Participants were able to call in to the session by phone.

At press time, the audio recording of the meeting was unavailable to The Newtown Bee, but finance board Chairman Keith Alexander provided minutes that reflected the comments of residents who called in to the hearing.

Earlier this month, the Board of Selectmen approved and moved a municipal spending plan for the next fiscal year in the amount of $43,925,927 representing a 2.2 percent or $951,168 bump, according to Town Finance Director Robert Tait. This proposal contains the entire debt service expense on bonding, including all interest on borrowing for school district capital projects.

The Board of Education also approved an $80,682,470 budget request for the next fiscal year — a 2.58 percent bump, adding $2,030,694 to the current year’s approved amount.

According to the public hearing minutes:

Resident Aaron Cox spoke in favor of the proposed Board of Education 2021-2022 budget. He emphasized how diligent the school board has been with managing the budget given the loss of state funds while maintaining a 2.58 percent increase.

Robert Katrinak mentioned the current financial climate as well as COVID and noted there should not be an increase in the budget. He spoke against the level of the fund balance, the across-the-board 2.5 percent salary increase, and the current cost per student in the local public school system.

Jen Larkin called in support of the school district budget and noted the support the students will continue to need academically as well as social/emotionally due to the pandemic.

Finally, Jan Kuzma spoke in favor of the proposed school budget, focusing on the Special Education allocation, given the loss of services students are experiencing during distance learning. Kuzma said she believes that budget line will support the ongoing needs of special ed students.

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