BEACON FALLS — The town’s proposed $6.23 million 2015-16 budget will head to a public hearing next week.
The municipal budget proposal, which has been approved by the Board of Finance, is an increase of $36,162 or 0.58 percent over the current budget. The public will have a chance to voice their opinions on the spending plan April 22 at 7 p.m. at Woodland Regional High School.
The largest increase in the budget is about $75,000 for the police department, which includes an additional $23,552 for part-time police officers to provide full-time police coverage in town.
Currently, there are two or three days a week — depending on the schedule of state police — when the town is reliant on a state trooper patrolling Route 8 from exits 13 to 29 to provide police coverage overnight.
“Putting that in there gives us the opportunity to hire to fill all those spots,” said First Selectman Christopher Bielik about the additional funds for part-time police officers.
The police department’s budget also includes a $16,879 increase for the resident state trooper program and a $15,843 increase for vehicle repair and maintenance.
Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget proposal includes having towns pay 100 percent of the cost of their resident troopers. The proposal is still working its way though the legislature.
Currently, municipalities that use the resident state trooper program pay 70 percent of the program with the other 30 percent is picked up by the state.
The actual increase for the state trooper program is approximately $40,000, Bielik said. However, he said, the town had set aside money to cover some of the cost last year and was able to use it in this budget proposal.
The budget for the wastewater treatment plant is set to go up $44,852. This is due in part to a $15,000 increase in plant operations and a $10,000 increase in sludge processing. The town’s cost for nitrogen credits went up over $15,000 as well due to the plant not being in compliance with current state regulations.
Savings in other areas of the budget helped to offset the increase.
Employee benefits are going down $16,842 overall due in part to a $21,078 decrease in social security and a $54,827 decrease in medical insurance. Workers compensation is increasing $45,000.
The budget proposal put forth by the Board of Selectmen also included an additional $58,000 to hire a seventh member for the highway maintenance crew. The position hasn’t been filled for several years following the retirement of a crew member. Ultimately, the finance board opted not to fill the position.
Board of Finance Chairman Jack Levine was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
The proposed town budget doesn’t include education costs for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect.
The Region 16 Board of Education has proposed a $40.5 million 2015-16 budget. The school spending plan is an increase of $796,500 or 2 percent over current school spending. Beacon Falls’ net education cost is $10,832,933, an increase of $382,621 or 3.66 percent, under the school budget proposal.
Bielik said officials have been able to keep the town budget increase at approximately $35,000 the past two years despite additional burdens from state mandates.
“There are a lot of things that are ‘must pays’ that we don’t have a lot of control over. But we’re looking at trying to reap savings where they are available. We are tightening things as closely as we can, as flat as possible, but still be providing the level of services the town is accustom to. I think that we’ve been able to accomplish that now for two straight years,” Bielik said.