Published March 21. 2013 4:00AM
Stonington - The Board of Finance finalized a 2013-14 town budget proposal Wednesday night of $57.8 million, which is 1.9 percent more than the current budget.
The proposal, which will go to an April 8 public hearing, calls for a tax rate of 19.88 mills, which is a 0.35-mill increase after being adjusted for the revaluation.
The board began its deliberations Wednesday starting with a 1-mill tax increase and feeling that it had to substantially lower the tax rate if it expected voters to approve the budget later this spring.
So the board voted 4-2 to take $1.2 million from its $11.7 million undesignated fund balance and use it to offset the budget. It also cut $250,000 from the $977,000 increase in the school budget after board Chairman Glenn Frishman commended new Superintendent Van Riley for doing a great job with his proposal.
While the board was working toward cutting the budget so it reflected a 0.25 mill tax hike, members were reluctant to cut more from the school budget to get to that number. The town budget is basically the same as the current spending plan.
"I'm willing to roll the dice and give this to the voters," said board member John O'Brien.
Following the April 8 hearing, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the high school, the board will consider the public's input and make any changes before sending the budget to a referendum vote.
Two items it may consider at that point are $100,000 for additional police presence in the schools and additional training in how to respond to school shooting incidents. It may also consider $48,000 in security upgrades in the schools. Neither item was included in the budget the board approved Wednesday.
Among the board's other decisions Wednesday were to cut $70,000 to fill the vacant director of planning position along with a $16,810 increase in funding for the Mystic & Noank Library.
The board did agree to preserve $10,000 increases, from $20,000 to $30,000, for each of the three ambulance companies that serve the town.