Beacon Falls budget passes by slim margin

8
1
Beacon Falls residents line up to cast their vote on the budget on Monday at the firehouse. The $6 million budget passed by a vote of 111 to 92. -LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — By 19 votes, the town approved a $6 million budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The budget was approved, 111 to 92, by a paper ballot vote during a town meeting Tuesday night.

First Selectman Gerard Smith was thankful that the town came out to vote.

“I’m very proud that the people of Beacon Falls did the right thing,” Smith said.

The budget is an increase of $164,864, or 2.7 percent, over the current budget.

The budget only represents town operating expenses. It does not include next year’s plan for Region 16, which covers Beacon Falls and Prospect. That plan, which has an increase of 1.44 percent, will be voted on Monday at a regional district meeting.

Town officials said they cannot say how this will affect the current tax rate of 26.10 mills, as they are waiting for an approved school plan. However, previous budget documents calculated a proposed tax rate of 30.80 mills, an increase of 4.7 mills.

That number uses this year’s education plan, and the town completed revaluation. Due to revaluation, the town’s 2011 grand list of about $471.5 million decreased by 12.75 percent, according to town documents.

The budget includes a payment towards a 10 year $1.1 million loan. The loan will cover large ticket items, such as the final payments for Blackberry Hill Road, the streetscape project, and items requested by the fire department.

Smith explained since the budget passed, the town would begin work on securing the loan immediately. The loan will have to come before the residents at another town meeting to be voted upon.

“There’s a measure of risk in passing tonight’s budget in advance of the funding. But, if the budget passes tonight, then everybody who supports the budget tonight has to come back here in three months and support that loan,” Selectman Chris Bielik said.

Before the vote, while the residents were discussing the budget, Jeremy Rodrigo asked Smith what would happen if the budget did not pass. Smith explained that, as had happened in the past, the capitol projects would be put off for another year.

Rodorigo told the town that putting some of these items off for another year might mean the difference between life and death.

“I just hope that the cardiac defibrillators that we are asking to replace, that will literally save your life, … I just hope they don’t die within that year. I hope that the ambulance doesn’t die on the way to the hospital,” Rodorigo said.

Former Selectman Len D’Amico told the residents that he felt that a 2.7 percent increase was very good. He said given his former position, he was familiar with how to make a budget and that this board did a very good job crafting this budget.

“We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can continue to put off and put off and put off. This is a very, very good budget,” D’Amico said.

He said if the town continues to put off paying for items, there may be severe consequences.

“I don’t think there is a man or woman in this room tonight that would want to, for the sake of a (2.7 percent) increase in this budget, that they would want to have on their consciences a problem by putting off this budget and not supporting it,” D’Amico said.

Not everybody was in favor of the increase in the budget. Resident Connie Sexton felt that the budget increase was too high.

“I’m tired of being taxed. I had to vote no on the budget,” Sexton said.

Sexton said in some places in New York when a resident’s child graduates from high school, they are no longer asked to pay taxes towards the school budget. She would like the town to look into a system similar to that.

Resident Doreen Fontaine was also worried about how high the taxes are already.

“I think our taxes are high enough. We don’t need increased taxes,” Fontaine said.

She explained that she was a senior on a limited budget and already had enough to pay for without the increase to taxes.

The town will hold a second town meeting to vote on the loan in approximately three months. No definitive date has been set yet.

8 COMMENTS

  1. The whole system here in America needs a major over haul.We have intrenched congress men & women who are bought& paid by corporate America.Term limits are a must across the board.We need more than 2 candidates to choose.This country will never see a 3rd or 4th party because the rules put in place by the ruling two parties.

    We also need to end the central banking system.Allowing a private central bank to control your currencies value is insane.

  2. I am sorry if I touched a nerve, but you were speaking to and about K-12 otherwise called Public Education. Post-Secondary education is another matter and it was never part of the public education mandate. There are countries that support education through college…maybe they have something we in this country should be taking a close look at.

    Reform of the Public Education system has always meant K-12 based on anything I have read. Looking at the current system, it has not been overhauled since its inception, which was designed around an agricultural economy not the later Industrial and now Technological Revolution we now live in.

    You are correct that having just a high school education barely allows one to survive, but it is the foundation for later life that will allow someone to succeed. Our public education system must adapt to a 21st century economy if our future generations are to step up to be the leaders we will need them to be. But that will cost money and burdening a smaller subset of our taxpaying public to foot the bill is not going to allow that to occur.

    I also agree that to believe that government will just come to the table with tax relief is a fools reality. It is up to us to use the voting booth to make necessary changes if we are to make headway towards a more equitable tax system and controlling spending. The latter is key to you & I keeping our precious little bits of cash in our pockets..not that of government.

    You and I will have that opportunity in the upcoming conventions, probable primaries, and November general election to begin that process.

  3. We all know you need more than a high school diploma to even think about getting a job so why stop at the K through 12 why do tax paying citizens of this state have to pay for a state college & go into deeper debt????

    Things were not out of control back when our grandparents & parents went to school.Most were able to get a job right after high school.People in certain positions were not making over 100 grand a year with great health & pension benefits back than.

    School should be year round, teacher tenure should be done away & unions should give more to help pay for the budgets.When this happens I would be more than willing to pay the same taxes as everyone.

    You must live in some kind of dreamland thinking government will ever give any type of tax relief.Good luck with that one.

  4. There is a cost to maintain the quality of life we all demand or at least perceive is due us. That cost is not only an accountable & responsible government, but also a solid and well performing public education system. Today we have fallen from one of the highest ranked & best education systems to our current ranking of 25th in the world in Math & Sciences and no better in the other so called “R’s”.

    We can argue that teacher & administrative ‘unions’ have placed an unacceptable financial cost on all taxpayers with salaries some think are excessive and questioning the type of program being offered in our schools. But think about it. The average Connecticut teacher’s salary with 10 years’ experience is less than $60,000/year. Nationwide it is even lower. These are the people who are expected to not only teach our children, but have over time been ‘mandated’ to solve all the family issues our society has passed on to them due to one-parent families, both parents working, and other economic & societal changes that State Legislators have no idea how to solve.

    We have all heard the argument that “our grandparents & their peers paid for our education, so now it is our turn to pay for the next generation.” That being said, we need to accept this responsibility or the long term effect on our local, state and federal governments may mean many more economic catastrophes like we are experiencing at this time.

    The suggestion that we move to a “Pay-for-Play” type education system appears to ease the economic cost for some in the short-term, when it more likely will increase the overall tax burden to all as our schools will have to cut back on current educational programs and forego future enhancements pushing our educational system further towards the bottom of the list. I say this because if we assume that the cost of educating one child is approximately $10,000 when we all are paying…then wouldn’t the cost increase exponentially for those left to pay? We have to remember that the cost is the cost and that will not go down just because we shift who pays.

    What will we do for those families who only have one child, never mind having more than one child, that are not financially capable of paying the cost of educating their children? Do we cast them aside or will it become necessary to create additional social programs (i.e. taxes), so that no child is left behind?

    It is our turn to pay this forward remembering that this is “Public Education”.

    If what GDP wants is tax relief, I suggest that we need to elect government leaders that support responsible government and programs that make sense.

  5. Well people with on child using the school system are paying their fair amount of taxes.However it’s the family that has 2 or more kids in the school system that are not paying their fair share when it comes to taxes.The way it should work is simple a flat tax is paid by the people who do not have any kids in the system which the tax would be much lower.For a family who has 2 or more kids the tax should be higher so everyone is paying their fair share.That tax should be based upon how many kids you have.We all know the household with more kids is not paying enough or their fair share in taxes for those kids in the school system.So why should the people who do not have kids in the system pay even higher taxes than they should for someone else who doesn’t pay enough???That’s why you need a lower tax rate for the people who do not have kids & a higher tax rate for the ones who do.Than it would be a fair system & everyone is still paying taxes.

  6. Thank you cousin, but no need to apologize for me. You’re right, Beacon Falls IS a great place to live. One of the main reasons that is so is that it’s not some town in New York where when a resident’s child graduates from high school, they are no longer asked to pay taxes.

    Using the “I don’t use it so I shouldn’t have to pay” logic, I shouldn’t have to pay FICA taxes because Social Security won’t have enough to pay me back when I’m ready to retire. Using that logic, I shouldn’t have to pay the portion of taxes that cover snow plowing in the town because I would choose not to go anywhere when it snows.

    I for one would be proud if my tax contribution could help fund a world class educational system that produces young people that make the world (and the town) a better place.

  7. Ms Sexton, please forgive my cousin bf. You have every right to live where you want and express your ideas and concerns. Beacon Falls is a great place as well. I am sure that is why you live here.

  8. Perhaps if they’re as great as she thinks, Connie Sexton should look into moving to one of those places in New York.