The annual budget hearing at Smalley Elementary School on Tuesday night took 17 minutes as five residents spoke. Council members will now take what the Mayor proposed and residents’ comments and come up with a budget for fiscal year 2017-18.
“I am in the beginning stages of going through the Mayor’s proposed budget and I am hopeful that by the time I finish it will be in the best interest of the residents of the city of New Britain,” said Alderman Jim Sanders Jr.
Mayor Erin Stewart presented her budget two weeks ago with a zero mill rate increase. The $241,537,535 million budget represents an increase of less than 1 percent over the current year budget. Due to Grand List growth, the tax rate will stay level at 50.50 mills.
“The accomplishments of this Administration under Mayor Stewart are reflected in the budget proposed. It’s a budget that must be reviewed by this Council,” said Alderman Daniel Salerno. “If it can be improved somehow, with sensible reductions, fine. There is no room for increases to our taxpayers. As is, it is a budget that can be supported, and should be. In the end it is the Council’s responsibility to approve and stand by the budget.”
“I applaud her for holding the line on taxes while maintaining the services residents have come to expect,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jamie Giantonio. “I think it’s a fair and balanced budget, based on real revenue numbers that aren’t artificially generated to make it work.”
Alderman Chris Polkowski said it is a fiscally responsible budget.
“I look forward to going through it,” Polkowski said. “We have time.”
Residents who spoke on Tuesday had various concerns.
Steve Amato of Amato’s Toy and Hobby spoke about issues related to parking. He had several issues of concern including the raise in the price of parking. He said costs were excessive.
“The City should be ashamed,” said Amato. “It needs to be changed now.”
John Kristopik said he was unhappy with the budget and the tax rate. He questioned the council on where funds were going.
John McNamara asked the Council to closely examine City Hall spending. He questioned why the City had a lobbyist.
“Examine closely what can be cut in the budget,” said McNamara. “City Hall spending has gone up.”
John Speyer spoke about the need for funds at the New Britain Food Pantry.
“Now is the time for the City to provide a small financial contribution to keep this essential community resource operating,” said Speyer.
Ann Speyer spoke on behalf of the New Britain Public Library and the school system.
She said the library was spending its money wisely and wanted full funding.
“Everyone one of you supported education,” said Ann Speyer. “Your job as council members is to fund education.”
Tina Santana, who did not speak, but listened to those who did, said she was disappointed in the attendance at the meeting.
“As community members, we need to be here for events like this,” said Santana. “They wanted us to take a real time look at Smalley and no one turned out. This is our community and cannot be a reflection of us.”
Salerno said all members of the Council are easily accessible. Names and phone numbers are on the City website for residents to contact with budget concerns.
The Council will meet May 15-18 to discuss the budget. The budget adoption will be on June 1.