Town Council Finance committee votes on budget
The Town Council Finance Committee voted on the 2014-15 budget Tuesday night, making only minor adjustments to the Board of Finance’s approved budget.
The proposal is now in the hands of the full Town Council, which will vote on it April 22.
The Finance Committee Tuesday night cut $33,742, leaving a total budget of $156.63 million.
A motion made by District 3 Democrat Vicki Tesoro, to restore $697,500 to the education budget, failed.
“The Board of Finance made this decision saying it was based on declining enrollment,” District 3 Democrat Vicki Tesoro said of the reduction. “Dr. Cialfi and the Board of Education believe these are necessary positions that have nothing to do with declining enrollment — the positions are based curriculum and mental health.”
District 2 Republican Cindy Penkoff said there is still some money in the budget to cover a requested social worker and a tech specialist. Penkoff said she was waiting on more information from the district on that and would bring it up at the full council budget vote.
Tesoro’s motion failed, 2-3, with one abstention.
The Finance Committee made no changes to the Police Department budget, which the Board of Finance reduced by $348,272. The reduction eliminated a new program that would pay retired officers to work as school security guards. It also eliminated $148,272, arguing that the cut would still allow the department to hire new officers, but would not allow for any promotions within the department.
Reductions were made in a few areas, including taking out a contracted grant writer from the first selectman’s office, saving $20,000.
“Due to budget constraints, I don’t feel comfortable adding a consultant,” Penkoff said.
Penkoff also made a motion to eliminate adding a part-time clerical position in town hall, that costs $15,210.
The motion passed 3-2, with one abstention.
Tesoro made a motion to add back $5,000 for a town study of Route 111 traffic issues, particularly the trail crossing. Her motion passed.
The reduction to the school budget has led to some outcry from parents and school supporters.
“If you support funding education, this is your opportunity to let our Town Council know that you do not agree with the Board of Finance’s reduction of the Board of Education budget by $697,500,” the petition reads. “This reduction will hamper the Board of Education from providing adequate staffing to address mental health needs and technology integration.”
The Town Council will vote on the budget Tuesday, April 22 at 8 p.m. in Town Hall Council Chambers.