New Milford cuts town budget, increases school funding
NEW MILFORD — Mayor Pete Bass recently presented a nearly $101.9 million budget that included less money for town operations and more for the schools.
The budget proposes a decrease of about $8,600 on the town side and an increase of about $868,000 for the schools, about $600,000 less than the increase the school board agreed upon when it approved a $64.3 million budget a few weeks ago.
The town budget includes the recent staffing cuts Bass announced, which eliminate more than a dozen positions. Some cut, like the assistant police chief’s job, were effective immediately.
Another three employees are expected to be laid off by the end of June. The other 71/2 positions will be unfilled vacancies or unfulfilled department requests.
The biggest driver for the cuts is less revenue from the state and within town, totaling more than $3.4 million.
“We are severely impacted by significant revenue decline before the expenditure side is even considered,” Bass said.
New Milford is dealing with two separate funding issues. The town faces a $2.2 million hole in the current fiscal year, which ends in June, because of a decrease in expected state revenue. It is also expected to get about $3 million less in state funding for the 2018-19 budget that begins July 1.
Bass said this was equivalent to the four largest commercial taxpayers leaving.
The budget does include some new and restored expenses. Among those are health insurance increases and the addition of a grant writer position meant to help generate revenue. The budget also restores the Children’s Center and ambulance line items to their historic levels and completes long-deferred maintenance and infrastructure projects.
Bass said the town will also examine municipal fees to ensure they are competitive, see if the permitting process can be adjusted to allow for growth, consolidate some school and town departments and audit motor vehicles in town to make sure residents are paying their taxes.
The school board approved a $64.3 million budget a few weeks ago for the upcoming school year that is about 2.34 percent higher than the current budget and includes nine fewer positions. The district will also not replace the five positions that opened up this year as a way to close the hole in the budget left by the cuts from Hartford.
The Board of Finance and Town Council will continue to discuss the budget in workshops next week.