Town Council approves 2013-14 budget

The Town Council Wednesday night approved a $151.9 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The overall budget passed 12-7, with most of the democrats on the council voting no, as well as a no vote from republican David Pia

Under the approved budget, the Board of Education receives $1.8 million less than it requested, which totals a 2.74 percent increase from the current year, as proposed by the first selectman. Some council members didn’t like that technology upgrades were not included in the education operating budget and will instead be bonded.

“We’re spending the money anyway but not showing it in the budget,” James Meisner, a democrat, said. “It comes down to honest accounting.”

The Town Council and Board of Finance are holding a joint meeting tonight (Thursday) to vote on money for school technology, field improvements and school safety. Council democrat Vicki Tesoro said she didn’t like voting on the budget before meeting on the bonding items.

“We are assuming those will pass tomorrow but that's a big assumption,” Tesoro said.

The council made few changes to the Board of Finance’s recommended budget but did eliminate $25,000 added for a deputy public works director. Republican members of the finance board had proposed adding the $25,000 to the budget, so the town engineer could be promoted to deputy public works director and help with the town’s recycling program. The proposal was a response to First Selectman’s Timothy Herbst’s budget proposal, which eliminates the recycling coordinator position from the budget.

Tesoro took issue with Herbst’s elimination of the position, citing Public Works Director John Marsilio, who called the position “vital” and said it was bad business to eliminate it.

“That position generates money, about $8,400 a month,” Tesoro said. “Our goal is to have recycling go up and solid waste go down — we are going in the wrong direction.”

While some on the board disagreed with the decision to cut the position, they also didn’t think creating the deputy public works position was a good idea. Democrat Gregg Basbagill made a motion to eliminate the $25,000 added by the finance board for the deputy public works director. He quoted Marsilio’s response to the decision, saying “I don’t know what the Board of Finance was thinking.” The motion passed.

Another change made to the budget was adding $20,000 back into the business and education initiative, for improvements to Trumbull Community Television. The motion was made by Republican Suzanne Testani.

For more on the budget approval, see next week’s Times.