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Proposal Would Bring More State Aid To Newtown


Newtown could receive as much as $300,000 more in state revenue than had been

planned under Gov John Rowland's budget.

According to First Selectman Herb Rosenthal, the state's Appropriations

Committee has proposed an increase in both education aid and PILOT funding --

Payment in Lieu of Taxes for state facilities in town -- for municipalities in

the 1999-2000 budget. PILOT money is paid to Newtown for being home to Garner

Correctional Facility and Fairfield Hills Hospital.

Under the legislative committee's plan, no Connecticut town would receive any

less money than it was already getting.

"Under the governor's budget, Newtown's aid to education would have decreased

by $98,000. This proposal would hold Newtown harmless," Mr Rosenthal said.

According to Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), state aid to

municipalities would increase by 4.5 percent over the current budget and two

percent over Gov Rowland's budget proposal under the plan.

Newtown's state aid for education has dropped from 24 percent of the budget in

1991 to 12 percent this year. The governor's proposal drops that figure below

11 percent.

Too Little, Too Late

It would seem like an additional $98,000 would come as good news to the Board

of Education, especially since its proposed budget for 1999-2000 was cut by

about $800,000 this year. However, as Board of Education chairman Amy Dent

points out, it may be too little, too late.

"The town referendum would have already occurred. Any additional state money

will go into the town's general fund. It won't go to schools," she said.

The same thing happens every year, Mrs Dent said. The state uses conservative

projections on its revenue. Then, after Newtown's budget process is over, it

decides on its budget. Newtown receives the additional funding long after

Newtown's budget is finalized and the money is used to offset the mill rate or

provide revenue for other years.

"It does not get used for educational spending," Mrs Dent said.

The school board chairman said it would make more sense to have the town's

fiscal year coincide with the state's.

Last month, Mr Rosenthal traveled to Hartford in the hopes of persuading

lawmakers to give Newtown its fair share.

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