Town Council approves a 3.22 percent budget increase
Published 10:56 am, Wednesday, April 18, 2012
The Town Council Tuesday night approved a $125.58 million town-wide budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year -- a 3.22 percent increase over last year.
"This is the culmination of many months of budget meetings," Town Council Chairman Dr. Mark DeWaele said. "I want to be one of the first to appreciate all the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Town Council members for their really excellent work in developing this budget. I think the taxpayers of New Canaan would be well served in understanding the amount of work that has gone into this. And I think it is fair to all of the departments and the taxpayers."
Nearly every line item and department budget was approved unanimously and without much discussion with the exception of the library. Councilman Roger Williams made a proposal to reduce the library's operating budget by $15,000. Williams alluded to a budget discussion at a Board of Finance meeting where funding for capital items, mainly furniture, was discussed for the library. Historically, the town has never financed capital items for the library. Williams said, and First Selectman Rob Mallozzi confirmed, that the Board of Finance essentially put $15,000 into the operating budget to fund it that way so as to avoid not technically funding a capital item.
"My position is if it's capital, it's capital, lets look at it and say what it is," Williams said. "So that was the reason for wanting to remove it from the budget."
Town Council eventually came to a decision to keep the $15,000 line item, but only after it was voted to a tie and broken by First Selectman Rob Mallozzi, who serves as an ex-officio member in these situations when votes are brought to a standstill.
"My vote is to go against that," Mallozzi said. "I'm in favor of keeping that money within the operating budget of the library."
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Councilman Christine Hussey agreed with Mallozzi and supported the decision to keep the money with the library as well.
"I think that we should fund this. It is not a large amount considering the dollars that we deal with in all these budgets. I think we should leave it untouched," Hussey said. "What they did during those storms was unbelievable. I live on Main Street, I was fortunate that I did not lose power but many people did and the library became their home. If were talking about a substantial amount of money in relation to this budget it would be different. But this is not a lot of money and if you've seen that furniture you would say replace it."
The only unanimous reduction was $72,500 removed from the capital budget. Those funds included the emergency operations center relocation, which has taken a backseat because of the upcoming town hall relocation; a license plate reader for the police and another parking pay machine.
The next and final step in the budget process belongs to the Board of Finance, which will be tasked with taking a look at the general fund and setting the mill rate, determining what residents will pay in taxes in the upcoming year.
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