Hearing next step for budget

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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.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I expect we will hear nothing from the DTC. After seeing how the DTC attacks anyone who is not In their camp I expect we will see them do just about anything they want. With no clear opponent Mr Bielik will remain in power as long as he wishes.

  2. Interesting point that the DTC made a big deal during the last election that Mr. Smith would be lining his own pockets when suggesting a higher salary for the position of first Selectman. Mr Bielik was elected because of this issue. Apparently Mr. Bielik actually liked the idea or upon now spending a year-plus in the position, realizes that Mr Smith was correct that the position should be payed a higher salary.

    Now can we expect that the DTC will again speak out against these salary increases, or will they play politics and push the increases along to help out “their” boy?

  3. When Mr Smith proposed his outrageous increases the DTC and their minions along with the press made us all well aware of the increase. Sounds biased.
    As for the road repairs, there is no plan.

  4. Is there any reason (maybe keeping the public in the dark being one) that there is no reference in this news article to proposed huge salary increases for elected officials? Rumor is that these increases are between 20 to around 40% depending on position. How many of we taxpayers received 20% pay increases! All we ever get are tax increases.

  5. So why is the town not incorporating a usage fee yet on sewer services like nearly every other town in CT…ohh wait let’s let the whole town cover all expenses under general tax dollars.

    Additionally, we have no plan for road restoration/paving…are we just hoping for more subsidies or natural disasters for state/fed funding here? I don’t get it.

    Please comment anyone…