Joint Boards adopt $107.6 million budget

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Taxes to go up 2.25 percent

The Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses work on the budget Thursday night. Ultimately, the boards adopted a $107.6 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — After hours of discussion, the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses adopted a budget of approximately $107.6 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The budget is an increase of approximately $2 million, or 1.94 percent, over this year’s budget. The mill rate was set at 33.55, and an increase of 0.74 mills or 2.25 percent. The tax increase equates to an increase of $148 for a home assessed at $200,000.

The budget includes $49,513,087 for municipal expenses, an increase of 1.97 percent, and a $58,082,076 school budget, an increase of 1.9 percent.

The boards entered the meeting Thursday night with a budget of over $109 million and were able to reduce it by approximately $1.5 million.

The school budget was cut by approximately $300,000. According to Controller Wayne McAllister, who is also the business manger for the Board of Education, the cuts come out of athletic stipends that were not being used, unemployment compensation, and through negotiations of renewed contracts.

The school budget also realized a savings of about $635,000 due to an increase in the borough’s Education Cost Sharing grant. The increase was originally listed as revenues under the municipal budget. Both the revenue line item and the line item for the expenses the grant was covering were removed from the budget.

One of the largest reductions to the municipal budget came from insurance. The boards cut $250,000 from general liabilities and $150,000 from employee health insurance for a total of $400,000.

“Right now were getting the $250,000 out of general liability. It actually is going to be an accumulation of changes in general liability, auto liability, collision, fire, and property,” Finance Board Chair Robert Butler said.

The $150,000 cut to employee health insurance comes from switching insurance providers.

The boards also cut $75,000 from the Water Pollution Control Authority’s legal budget, approximately $26,000 from the land use budget, and $20,640 from pensions.

While it was the larger cuts that had the greatest impact on the budget, the boards looked to find any cuts possible.

This led to the boards cutting $6,377 from the police department’s budget since the estimated cost per gallon of fuel was higher than what the borough believed it would be able to pay for fuel.

There were even smaller cuts made, such as $695 from the property assessor’s budget for printing and conference fees and $150 from the building inspector’s budget for conference fees for the part-time employee.

The board members had a heated discussion over the community service budget, including an elderly tax program, funding for the Whittemore Library and the Greater Waterbury Transit service.

The boards had proposed approximately $7,000 for the Greater Waterbury Transit service, which picks up people who are not near a bus stop and are physically unable to make it to the bus stop. This includes the elderly and residents with disabilities.

The boards debated cutting the funding and passing the cost on to the people who use the service. This would cost the riders a little more than $2 a ride whenever they wanted to use the bus.

A couple of the board members wondered if the elderly tax program, which costs the borough $11,500, was worth continuing.

Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi felt the town had an obligation to continue this service.

“These are people who have lived in this community their entire lives and they’re trying desperately to pay for their medications and stay in their homes,” Rossi said. “You have to understand that there comes a point where we do have an obligation to provide services.”

Mayor Robert Mezzo agreed there are certain programs the borough should fund to help its residents.

“Everybody here wants to cut taxes, we all want to do it, but at what expense do you just stop being what Naugatuck is,” Mezzo asked the boards.

Burgess Ronald San Angelo was concerned about what effect programs like this had on other residents in the borough.

“Every time we spend a dollar to help somebody else, we do in fact take away dollars from other people,” San Angelo said.

The boards ultimately voted to leave the community services budget unchanged.

The only place in the budget the boards added money was in the reserve fund.

Because of public outcry in favor of funding the library, the boards decided to add $5,000 back for the library. However, rather than adding the money directly to the library’s budget, the money would go into the reserve fund with the stipulation that the library use it for technology.

By adding it to the reserve fund, the mill rate remained unaffected.

Residents now have the ability to bring the budget to a referendum. To do so, 8 percent of registered voters need to sign a petition that must be handed to Borough Clerk Nancy DiMeo by June 7.