Budget proposal heads to council vote

When the Town Council takes up its review of the 2019-20 town budget Thursday, it will deliberate on a budget proposal that differs only slightly from the one First Selectman Vicki Tesoro first unveiled in March.
The council’s Finance Committee on Monday cut just over $76,000 from the $174.8 million package that the Board of Finance approved in April. The finance board, in turn, had added about $63,000 to Tesoro’s original budget request.
“The Board of Finance did an awesome job in its review, and everyone down to the department heads has been very cooperative throughout the entire process,” Finance Committee Chairman Lisa Valenti said. “The biggest challenge for us is not in Trumbull, it’s in Hartford.”
Valenti, like others in town, lamented the state budget situation in which towns like Trumbull could see their state funding cut and teacher pension obligations shifted from the state onto the towns. The budget changes could cost Trumbull up to $1.2 million. Anticipating the extra costs, many towns have adopted austerity measures to try and avoid having to make drastic mid-year cuts.
“Everyone’s pretty nervous about that,” Valenti said. “This budget is pretty bare bones.”
Public input on the budget centered on the school allocation. Tesoro increased the school budget 2 percent over the current year, but that increase is just under half of what the Board of Education had requested, leading to concerns that teaching positions could be eliminated.
The council has the authority to make further cuts. Or, the council can add funds back into the budget by a 2/3 vote. By charter, the council can only reinstate funds up to the original amount requested by Tesoro. With the current budget proposal representing a request that is within $13,000 of what Tesoro recommended, any additions the council made would be negligible.