NAUGATUCK — The Board of Finance last week elected Diane Scinto to be its new chairwoman, replacing outgoing Chairman Robert Butler Jr., who is leaving the board after being hired by the borough school system.
Scinto, a Republican, is the most senior member of the finance board, having served for about seven years. She said as chairwoman she wants to publicize the weekly budget workshops the board holds between February and May.
“Many people really don’t realize they can attend the budget hearings that we have on Mondays,” Scinto said. “A lot of questions could be answered and people could have a better understanding of the process and what we look at.”
The workshops have always been open to the public. Residents can watch and hear the board members’ debates but have no opportunity to comment. Residents usually attend and comment during one hearing just before the budget is adopted, but many of their questions demonstrate a lack of understanding of what goes into the budget, officials have said.
Scinto said she would encourage the public to attend, at the very least, the meetings that focus on departments that interest them. As chairwoman, she will run meetings and hearings.
Scinto said she plans to follow the leads of Butler and the chairman before him, Ray Lennon, who worked closely with Controller Wayne McAllister to organize the budget. The process has worked much more efficiently under those chairmen than it did before them, Scinto said.
Scinto, 53, has worked for 16 years as a claims service consultant for The Hartford insurance company. Before that, she worked for Aetna. She lives on East Waterbury Road with her husband, Fred, and has two grown children.
She was chosen 5-3 over contender Dan Sheridan, also a Republican, who said he expected Scinto to be a good chairwoman in the tough budget year coming up.
“She knows a lot about what goes on in town,” Sheridan said. “I think she has the experience of having been through a number of different budget cycles and would be very competent in running it.”
Sheridan said he also wanted to increase public input into the budget by offering residents the opportunity to comment at workshops and holding a hearing before budget season to let the public express their wishes for the upcoming spending plan. He said he would have used the position to try for more fiscal conservatism in the borough.
“My point is really challenging every dollar that we spend and spending it as if it was my own,” Sheridan said.