By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
NAUGATUCK — Borough officials have adopted a 2021-22 budget proposal that increases spending by 1.89% but projects to keep the tax rate the same.
The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and the Board of Finance on April 26 approved a $129.5 million budget proposal during a virtual meeting. The proposal increases overall spending by about $2.4 million from this fiscal year.
“Overall, I think it’s a balanced budget that gives department heads what they need and doesn’t spend things that are nice to have, rather things that are needed,” Board of Finance Chairman Dan Sheridan said in a subsequent interview.
Officials are anticipating the spending increase will be offset by revenues, and they will be able to keep the tax rate at 47.75 mills. The projected revenues include estimated state funding, but officials won’t know exactly what the borough will receive until the state’s budget is adopted.
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said he’s comfortable with where the numbers are at the time being.
“So, as of right now with conservative numbers, we’re in decent shape,” Hess said.
The budget uses about $2.4 million from the fund balance, or surplus, as revenue. This is $909,800 less than the current budget uses as revenue.
The fund balance is estimated at $12.2 million — after using the money as revenue — and includes a projected $2 million surplus in the current year, according to officials.
The budget proposal includes about $64.6 million for the Board of Education, which is about $1.67 million more than this year’s school budget.
The proposed school budget is about $200,000 less than the plan school officials presented to the finance board.
Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini said the school board will reallocate $200,000 planned for three teaching positions to limit possible large class sizes to professional services. He said if the need arrives for the teaching positions, school officials will look to use federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay for them.
The spending plan includes $30,000 to contract with a firm to provide social work services and work with the Naugatuck Police Department as needed. Police are looking to add a social worker to help with situations where people need social services, such substance abuse, behavioral and emotional issues, and people struggling with housing.
There is $1.6 million worth of capital projects in the budget proposal, including $102,000 for a computer replacement plan, $100,000 for a phone system upgrade and $50,400 for a plow and sander truck.
The borough won’t hold an in-person hearing on the budget proposal. The public can submit questions and comments, with their name and address, via email to email@example.com by 11:59 p.m. on May 9.
The joint boards will review the public’s comments and look to adopt a final budget on May 12.