April 8, 2009
The Board of Finance on this date held a public hearing on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2009-2010 at 7:30 p.m. at the Stonington High School auditorium. Members present were Glenn Frishman, Chairman; Andrew Rines, Secretary; John O’Brien; Dudley Wheeler; Bryan Bentz and Kevin Burns. Also present Maryanna Stevens, Director of Finance; Board of Education members, Town Hall staff and residents of the Town.
Mr. Frishman opened the public hearing at 7:30 p.m. He welcomed all present and stated that due to the economic downturn this was a difficult budget. Mr. Frishman spoke to the demographics of the Town and he commended the Stonington Public Administrators Association for offering up their cost of living raises. He stated that the Board of Finance had sent letters to all departments and the Board of Education via the Selectman’s Office asking for level funded budgets for 09-10. He added that revenues are down across the board and commended the Director of Finance for the bond refunding.
The budget presented totals $53,537.489. General Government stands at $22,297,196., Board of Education totals $30,781,257., and CIP totals $459,036. These carry a mil rate of 15.10, which maintains the mil at the 08-09 rate. This required cuts totaling $1,800,000. Mr. Frishman stated that the Board would like to avoid the expense of five referendums like last year. He informed the residents that he would go through the budget book page by page and staff present would address any questions or comments.
Dave Rathbun opposed the elimination of the Zoning Enforcement Officer and read a statement from the Board of Appeals.
Lynn Young, Dan Boyle, James Buckley, Michael McKinley, Vivian Toragrossa, Jim Smith, Dick Kelly, Brian Cheseboro, Gail Shea and Don Savosky also spoke in support of reinstating this position within the Planning Department.
Bill Sternberg along with other residents added comments that they do not feel the Board of the Finance has the authority to eliminate a position and that this is the sole responsibility of the First Selectman.
Resident request to show a separate line item for Leaf pickup. Several residents suggested raising cost of yellow bags to generate revenue.
Don Maranell stated that it is Board of Selectmen’s job to raise or lower cost of yellow bags.
Doug Rea asked about Police vehicle fuel consumption. Also questioned was the size of the police force for Stonington compared to neighboring towns.
Residents questioned the WPCA Town share.
Several residents spoke to the benefits provided by the Human Services department.
John Butler and Russ Patridge thanked the Town for their continued support of the W.A.R.M. shelter.
Lois Hillard and Nancy Heather were upset over cuts to the Mystic Noank library.
Questions arose over the Mosquito abatement and the overall costs.
At this time, First Selectman Habarek spoke outlining some budget alterations. He would like to see the funding go back to the schools and be taken from the Fund reserve. Many residents spoke in support of returning $368,263 back to the BOE budget. Several offered suggestion of possible changes to taxation to alleviate the burden on seniors such as an adjusted mil rate.
There being no further questions or comments for the Board of Finance, Mr. Frishman closed the hearing at 10:47 p.m.