Budget talks approach finale
With the deadline to approve the town budget looming, the Town Council is continuing hearings on what is now a $132 million spending plan.
The council met March 2 for an informational hearing on the Board of Education’s proposed expenditures. The budget came to the council after months of review, cuts and a unanimous vote by the Board of Finance in favor of the amended document Feb. 26.
Present at the meeting were the Board of Education and Representatives from New Canaan Public Schools, including Superintendent Bryan Luizzi and Director of Finance Jo-Ann Keating. Members of the Town Council prepared and submitted questions to the representatives from the schools beforehand, in order to give representatives ample time to prepare thorough answers.
“I believe one of the very important roles of the Town Council are to bring to light any issues that the public might be interested in,” said Christa Kenin of the council’s education subcommittee. She, with
subcommittee co-chair Jim Kucharczyk, led the nearly three-hour dialogue.
Budget at a glance
Original proposal: More than $143 million.
Latest proprosal: $132.3 million.
Increase over 2015-2016: 3.61 percent.
Next hearing: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Town Hall.
Final vote: 7 p.m. March 23, Town Hall.
No additional cuts were made at the meeting, but Luizzi said that about $445,000 was saved by switching all teachers to a high-deductible insurance plan.
With those numbers in mind, and with questions submitted, representatives from the schools addressed issues such as health benefits, substitute teachers, stipends, club support and activities, food service, school nurses, special education, staffing, teacher-to-pupil ratios and teacher salaries, so that members of the Town Council could better understand them before the final vote.
“Right from the start the Board of Finance, Selectman, the Town Council has been incredibly impressed with the detail you’ve provided us this year,” Town Council Chairman Bill Walbert said of the collaborative nature of cutting the budget. “We really appreciate how you’ve listened to our concerns from a budgeting perspective.”
The Town Council will continue to review the spending plan before a final vote March 23.