Mill rate set at 34.74; schools may get budget boost

Trumbull schools may get a $510,870 budget bump after the state did not reduce the town’s education funding by as much as expected.

First Selectman Vicki Tesoro

Trumbull stood to lose $1.2 million through a combination of reduced state funding and an increase in teacher pension expenses. Instead, the state budget passed last week reduces Trumbull’s state aid by about $218,000. The town also will not have to absorb the $510,870 teacher pension expenses. That is not ideal, but certainly better than the alternative, said Board of Finance Chairman Elaine Hammers.

“The state allocated $437,000 in Educational Cost Sharing funds to us, and we were able to use that to reduce the mill rate,” Hammers said. On Monday, the finance board approved a 2019-20 mill rate of 34.74, an increase of 2.12 percent over the current year’s 34.02.

When she presented her budget proposal in February, First Selectman Vicki Tesoro had said that she had budgeted as if the state would push the entire teacher pension cost onto the town, but would recommend redirecting the money to the schools if the state continued to fund the pensions. Last week, the state did just that.

“As promised, I will recommend to the Board of Finance and the Town Council that the monies set aside for the teacher pension expense totaling $510,870 be transferred to the Board of Education,” said Tesoro. “If this recommendation is approved, the total increase to the Board of Education budget will be $2.5 million, a 2.5% increase over last year.”

Elaine Hammers

Hammers said the Board of Finance would vote on the school funds transfer at its July meeting, and that she expected the measure to pass.

“We had detailed conversations about it at our [June 10] meeting,” she said.

Tesoro thanked residents who contacted the town’s legislative delegation to express their concerns about the proposed cuts.

“Your emails and calls alerting our officials to the negative impact a $1.2 million reduction would have on our town and schools made a difference,” she said. “When we work together, we can do great things for the Town of Trumbull.”

Hammers said she was simply glad the state had passed its budget on time, which allowed the town to have accurate numbers at its disposal rather than relying on estimated state funding.

“Any time they pass their budget on time, that helps us,” she said.