Mayor Erin E. Stewart on Wednesday presented to the Common Council a $237.72 million budget for 2018-19 that calls for no tax increase and an overall reduction in spending.
The $237,729,089 budget represents a 1.58 percent decrease from the current year’s $241.53 million budget. The Mayor received the Board of Finance and Taxation’s budget proposal on March 8. Under the Mayor’s plan, $13 million in changes were made, including $1 million in cuts to the City side of the budget.
“This is a budget that preserves public safety, keeps education spending intact, retains an $18 million fund balance, and maintains the services and quality of life that residents and business owners have come to expect. It’s a budget that builds on our mission to find intra-departmental efficiencies and guides us through a period of financial uncertainty at the Capitol in Hartford,” said Mayor Stewart. “I’d like to thank the Board of Finance and Taxation for all their hard work over the last several months. During that time, they heard in detail from department heads and developed a proposal that aimed to strike a balance between funding our obligations and keeping the mill rate down for taxpayers.”
The Mayor’s budget includes no layoffs or reduction in services, fully funds the City’s pension obligations, factors in a 10 percent reduction in state aid, provides level funding to the Board of Education, and features an estimated savings from restructuring debt. Savings also come in part from the City’s 2017 Grand List increasing more than 5 percent.
“The Board of Education will receive the same amount of money from the City as they did last year, which is in line with the state mandate. While we realize this is not ideal, we are being realistic with the money we expect to receive from the state,” the Mayor stated.
The budget provides $125,700,000 in funding to the Consolidated School District of New Britain. The school system was able to reduce its initial budget request by $1.64 million due to a reduction in transportation costs related to going out to bid. The school board’s major requested increases included $1.40 million for salary increases and $2.1 million for increases in insurance costs and fringe benefits.
“We understand that Superintendent Sarra is in the process of a massive restructuring of the school district that will help save money,” Mayor Stewart said.
In January, the Board of Education asked for $4.7 million more from the City for its 2018-19 budget.
When the board’s initial budget was released Nick Mercier, vice president of the board of education, “I look forward to working with the Mayor and Common Council as we work to finalize a budget. We all understand the tough fiscal situation our city faces, but we can’t let our school system be a casualty of the State’s inability to manage their finances.”
The budget proposal also accounts for more than $1 million in cuts on the City side, which includes:
- A reduction in overtime in the Fire Department budget now that they are at full staffing levels
- A reduction of four vacant patrol officer positions at the Police Department, now that the federal grant is no longer available
- A reduction in apprentice positions within the telecommunications division
- Trimming nearly every department’s budget to average historical funding levels, allowing the City to provide uninterrupted services.
The City will now hold a public hearing. The Council has 60 days to make changes and approve a final budget.