Borough officials send budget to hearing

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NAUGATUCK — Borough officials have backed a $116 million budget for fiscal year 2015-16.

The Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses approved the spending plan, which is an increase of $3 million or 2.7 percent over the current budget, Monday night.

The budget proposal would increase the mill rate by 2.05 mills to 46.32.

The mill rate is the amount of taxes payable on the assessed value of a property. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. Under the proposed mill rate a home assessed at $150,000 would pay $6,948, an increase of $307.50 over the current year’s taxes.

The spending plan will now go to a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. May 11 at City Hill Middle School. The boards will adopt the budget and set the mill rate May 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Following Monday night’s meeting, Finance Board Chairwoman Diane Scinto said officials will need to make more cuts.

“It’s a 2 mill increase. We can’t support that,” Scinto said. “We’ve got to make deeper cuts at final adoption.”

The boards approved the Board of Education’s budget request as presented. The school board is seeking $62.14 million from the borough, which is an increase of $1.23 million or 2.03 percent over the current budget.

The proposed municipal budget is $53.86 million, which is an increase of $1.8 million or 3.49 percent over the current budget.

The joint boards made over $200,000 in reductions to municipal spending from the previous proposal throughout the evening.

The largest reduction was $115,957 from the police department’s budget, which includes $68,657 from not filling an open police officer position.

Mayor Robert Mezzo, who recommended the cut, said he didn’t like having to cut the position. But, he added, the borough needs to make cuts somewhere.

The remaining $47,300 cut from the police budget came from reductions in uniforms, clothing allowance, school allowance and computer maintenance.

About $45,000 was cut from the fire department’s overtime budget and $50,000 was a removed for a new public work’s employee.

The joint boards also removed $353,722 from the borough’s reserve fund expenditures.
The cuts included $113,844 from proposed repairs to the Whittemore Memorial Library. About $90,000 of that was earmarked for solar panels for part of the roof, and the remainder was for boiler repairs and to replace a fan.

Officials also pushed back buying items for public works out into a three-year lease.
Since the money to pay for these items comes from the reserve fund, the reductions had no impact on the mill rate.

In addition to the budget increase, the borough is also losing $1 million in revenue from Veolia North America, the company that operates the wastewater treatment plant.

Controller Robert Butler said the plant lost two major accounts, which totaled over $1 million. Under the contract with the borough, he said, Veolia can reduce the revenue paid to Naugatuck by up to $1 million.