Board of Finance discussing education budget tonight
The Board of Finance will discuss the Board of Education's budget at tonight's meeting, at 6:30 p.m. at the New Canaan Nature Center. Tonight marks the third night, and the conclusion of, BOF budget discussions.
At the opening night of the Board of Finance's budget deliberations on Tuesday, Feb. 5, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi warned, "I think this budget year is going to be about nickels and dimes because we have a lot to do."
"There's not a lot of fat in our operating budgets," he said. "The only opportunity is to look at capital. What I saw was a huge task on capital side. We know that we'll have capital issues down the road, but we can't have a 9 percent tax increase."
The proposed municipal budget, approved by the Board of Selectmen and passed on to the finance board, is $136,685,796, an increase of $11,110,629 from 2012-13's $125,575,167.
The Board of Finance took a fine-toothed comb to the budget, inspecting line by line the increases that the different departments requested.
Of note was disappointment by the board on the part of past financial and accounting practices, and an appreciation for the transparency of the proposed budget. Mallozzi said previous years' budgets should not necessarily act as a historical comparison on the level of some accounting and auditing details.
"It's disappointing. For years, we heard that everything is perfect," said Board of Finance member Neil Budnick. "We're going to have to accept some level of inaccuracy."
"Inaccuracy to say the least," said board member Judy Neville.
One small increase the board discussed at length was a $5,000 in Mallozzi's salary, which is currently $125,333.
According to Director of Human Resources Cheryl Jones, who prepared a list of the 50 highest paid town employees, Mallozzi ranks 49th in town in salary. She said a move upwards of about $15,000 has been in the works for a couple of years. She said surrounding towns pay their first selectmen between $90,000 and $145,000.
"The fact is that it wouldn't be prudent to make a $15,000 increase," Mallozzi explained to the board. "but we want to get it up to a point that's commensurate with the duties and responsibilities (of the office)."
Even with the proposed increase, Mallozzi's salary still would be below that of Administrative Officer Tom Stadler, who makes $130,397.
Some relief on the increase front could come in the form of higher-than-expected revenue, particularly from the Town Clerk's Office. Conveyance fees on property transactions, for instance, already have reached more than 83 percent of the expected $1 million in only six months.
"Overall revenue is up 33 percent," Town Clerk Claudia Weber said. "Things are looking good and obviously we are busy. We expect this spring to be quite busy. The real estate market looks good."
Board member Robert Spangler suggested an increase in the expected revenue on conveyance fees by $200,000.
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