NAUGATUCK — After some final adjustments, the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses approved a $115.2 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year Thursday night.
The budget represents an increase in spending of $4.33 million, or 3.91 percent, over the current budget. The municipal budget for 2014-15 is $53.9 million, an increase of $2.5 million or 4.87 percent. The Board of Education budget is $61.3 million, an increase of $1.8 million or 3.07 percent.
The spending increase was partially offset by revenues. The budget will increase the mill rate 0.26 mills to 45.06 mills.
The mill rate is the amount of taxes payable on the assessed value of a home. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. Under a 45.06 mill rate, a home assessed at $150,000 will pay $6,759 in taxes, an increase of $39 over current taxes.
After hours of discussions, the joint boards ultimately reduced the budget that was sent to a public hearing Tuesday by about $350,000.
The largest reduction made was $201,000 from the police department’s budget.
Controller Robert Butler explained the reduction is based on the current and previous year’s expenses of the regular pay roll and overtime budgets, as well as the merger of the assistant office manager and account clerk positions.
The joint boards also removed money from the fire department’s budget earmarked to replace two firefighter positions for potential retirees.
Fire Chief Ken Hanks told the joint boards earlier this year there are four potential retirements happening in the fire department in the 2014-15 fiscal year. At the time, officials put money in the budget to fill all four positions.
However, during Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Robert Mezzo did not favor filling all four positions saying the department does not always see as many retirements as expected.
“I know the chief does a good job of polling his employees about who’s going to retire and we have four, potentially five. But historically they have not had greater than two,” Mezzo said.
Mezzo said he would be in favor of refilling the positions in the next year’s budget if all four retirements occur.
The Whittemore Library was one area in the budget to receive additional funding Thursday night.
The joint boards added $5,000 to the library’s budget, which had been flat funded for the past seven years. The library is not a borough department. Rather, it is an “association library,” but the borough funds roughly 80 percent of the library’s budget.
Putting more money into the library budget was a move advocated by several residents at the public hearing Tuesday.
The budget can be forced to a referendum vote if residents petition to do so. The petitions must be turned in to Town Hall by June 12 and contain signatures from at least 8 percent of the borough’s registered voters.