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North Stonington budget talks continue late into Wednesday night

By Anna Isaacs

Publication: The Day

Published May 02. 2013 4:00AM   Updated May 06. 2013 8:33PM

North Stonington - On the evening of its self-imposed deadline, the Board of Finance worked late into the night Wednesday to finalize the 2013-14 town budget.

The budget was not completed before deadline, but Chairman Dan Spring said he expects the final numbers to be available this morning.

Board member Emil Pavlovics said the board has taken care to craft a budget with future building projects - including a proposed $6.3 million firehouse that could be voted on as soon as next month - in mind. Also fresh in town officials' memory is the budget debacle that ended in voter approval last October after four months and three failed referendums.

Pavlovics said this year, the board is taking into account not just what is good for the town, but what will appeal to taxpayers - namely, minimal increases and as low a property tax rate as it can set.

When it finally was approved last fall, this year's budget stood at $18.1 million, $5.9 million of which was for general government, debt and capital items. 

An hour and a half in, the meeting Wednesday had devolved into several individual conversations and debates taking place around the room between Board of Finance members and selectmen, all three of whom were in attendance. Board of Finance Chairman Dan Spring arrived later, about an hour and 45 minutes after the meeting began.

Superintendent Peter Nero's $12.7 million proposed school budget calls for about a 5.3 percent increase, compared to the 0.12 percent increase this year. Nero said earlier this year that years of level- or near-level-funding left him with little choice. Finance board members said this increase would result in a tax rate increase of 1.25 mills. The tax rate now is 23.75 mills.

At 10 p.m., board members were looking at a 2-mill tax increase.

First Selectman Nick Mullane said that when he handed over the selectmen's proposed general government operating budget to the Board of Finance, it contained an increase of less than 1 percent over this year's budget.

The public hearing on the budget will be held Monday. The board will then review the budget based on public feedback, with a town meeting scheduled for May 20 and a referendum set for May 28.

a.isaacs@theday.com

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