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Milone Proposes $101.8 Million Operating Budget

March 11, 2013 by Josh Morgan

Town Manager Michael Milone has proposed a $101.8 million Operating Budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The proposal represents a $3 million increase in spending from the current year. Milone stated in his budget transmittal letter to the Town Council that his proposal, which is a 3.10 percent increase, was necessitated by the state budget proposal outlined by Gov. Dannel Malloy.
“We were confronted with a myriad of challenges never previously experienced,” Milone writes in his letter.
Malloy’s proposal calls for a reduction in Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) money and the elimination of the motor vehicle tax. All told, Milone said Cheshire is slated to lose approximately $8.65 million in state aid and revenue as a result of the Governor’s proposal.
To fund the Town’s Operating Budget for 2013/2014, Milone has recommended a mill rate increase of nearly 4 percent. That increase, he said, is higher than the average mill rate increase over the last five years, “but was necessitated by the Governor’s budget proposal.”
The average taxpayer with a home and two cars will pay approximately $256 more in taxes this year, based on Milone’s proposal. However, the Town Council will begin debating the Operating Budget soon, and is likely to make changes to the proposal before adopting a plan in early April.
On the Town side of the budget, Milone has proposed a $27.9 million plan, which is an increase of $1.3 million. Milone reduced the Board of Education’s budget request by $350,000. The Education Budget is now proposed to be $64.5 million, which represents an increase of $2 million. Before adopting a budget, the Board of Education added $350,000 to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Greg Florio’s proposal to focus on maintenance and equipment. Milone essentially removed that increase, and has forwarded Florio’s initial recommendation to the Town Council in his proposal which was released publicly today.
“I don’t disagree that these additional funds are warranted, I simply feel that, given the potentially dire fiscal constraints imposed by the Governor’s budget, some immediate alternative should be identified and a longer term plan considered,” Milone wrote in his transmittal letter.
The overall 2013/2014 Operating Budget is proposed to increase by about $3 million, or 3.10 percent, since there is a reduction in debt of approximately $260,000. More than half of the increases to the Town side of budget is a result of pension and personal services, such as salaries and benefits.
To help mitigate the local tax burden, Milone has proposed the use of $700,000 in surplus funds, or Fund Balance, in the Operating Budget. Additionally, he planned to use $1.17 million from a Debt Service Reserve Fund as revenue in the budget.
“We have endeavored to develop a budget that protects core services and programs to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our residents and that we don’t sacrifice good governance.” Milone said.
Find more detail about the proposed Operating Budget, including comments from Town Council members, in Thursday’s Cheshire Herald.

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