New Milford's proposed $92.54 million budget for 2012-13 goes to a Board of Finance public hearing March 28 at 7 p.m. at Sarah Noble Intermediate School.

Along with a proposed 2.5 percent tax increase, the spending plan comes with Democratic party concerns about cuts and spending.

Town Council member Dr. Peter Mullen said Monday that for at least the last five years, line items on the town side of budget, including Police Department spending, have been "inflated" by $200,000 or more for a total surplus of $1 million per year.

"In the last five or six audits, the town side comes in over-budgeted by $1 million each year," said Dr. Mullen, a Democrat. "It gives a false impression of revenues."

Democratic Board of Finance member Shelly Pruss said that "something will be done about, and with, that money," referring to the $1 million overages Dr. Mullen called into question.

Republican Mayor Pat Murphy said such comments are off base.

"There's absolutely no padding of line items. Whoever's saying this doesn't understand the financing," she said.

More Information

Budget hearing WHEN: Wednesday, March 28 at 7 p.m. WHERE: Sarah Noble Intermediate School, Sunny Valley Road PROPOSED BUDGET: $92.54 million ($57.56 million education, $34.98 million town) PROPOSED TAX INCREASE: 2.5 percent PROPOSED MILL RATE: 25.37 mills

"If you look at last year's audit, we spent $57,000 more than we took in revenues," the mayor said. "When you're developing a budget, you're predicting a year and a half ahead how you think the year will go.

"If you find savings as the year progresses, of course you take them," she added. "A grant comes in larger than expected, a better price on oil is available, that all ends up in savings at year's end. And that's a good thing."

Dr. Mullen argued during budget deliberations against a $250,000 cut to education spending and $150,000 in cuts to personnel salary and fringe benefits.

The mayor had already cut $1.15 million from education, planning to draw $1.15 million from the Internal Service Fund to defray medical spending and balance the cut.

On March 12, Republican Town Council member Ray O'Brien reduced the $150,000 personnel cut to $100,000.

That brought the 2012-13 budget cuts to some $510,000 from the mayor's budget proposal -- $250,000 cut on the education side and $260,000 cut on the town side.

The Board of Finance will be reviewing those cuts carefully, said finance board chairman Joanne Chapin.

"We're definitely looking at everything. We'll be look at it as a board and make decisions. To lay someone off is almost as expensive as employing them," Ms. Chapin said.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322