Residents of New Milford will soon have their chance to comment on the town's proposed budget for fiscal 2013-14.

The New Milford Board of Finance was set this week to schedule its public hearing.

Finance board deliberations will take place at the board's April 10 meeting. The public hearing would be conducted before that date.

The Town Council approved last week sending a $95.5 million proposed budget to the finance board.

The tax increase would be 1.93 percent, and the mill rate would change from 25.57 to 25.86 mills, equating to a tax of $2,586 on every $100,000 of assessed value on a home.

To reach the $95.5 million, $202,622 was cut by the council from Mayor Pat Murphy's budget proposal, $100,000 from the education budget and $102,622 from the town side.

The education budget now stands at $59.6 million. Murphy and the Town Council cut $425,000 from the Board of Education request.

The council's vote on its $100,000 in education cuts passed by a 6-3 vote. All three Democratic members of the council voted against the cut.

School board member David Lawson was angered by the proposed reduction.

"Making arbitrary cuts is easy, just like the bomber pilot that drops bombs, but never sees the damage," Lawson said. "Imagine the possibilities for our children and the national future if the Board of Education was not the target of bombs."

The town side of the budget is now $35.85 million for operations, capital and debt, representing $1.47 million in cuts from original department requests.

Reductions to the town side were unanimously approved by the council.

Council member Ray O'Brien defended the proposed budget cuts.

"I felt that taking out $100,000 from education barely compensates the town portion of the budget for the two school resource officers," he said, "and the new financial software it is carrying."

"As for cuts to town personnel, personnel accounts for 70 percent of the town's operating costs," O'Brien said. "If we can reduce (five) personnel positions and some hours worked, while still providing the required services to the taxpayer, we should."

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322