$32 million municipal budget

With a 2% increase over the last fiscal year, First Selectman Bill Brennan says his board’s municipal budget for fiscal year 2016 is “trim.”
“We have a great budget,” he said by phone Wednesday morning. “We have an increase in operating expenditures of only 1.59%, and the whole budget increase is only 2%,” he said.
With town workers experiencing a 2.5% increase in wage growth, having a budget that grows only 2% is excellent, he added.
When all is said and done, the municipal budget proposed by the Board of Selectmen this year comes in at $32.4 million. Of that, $31.1 million is set for operating expenses, and $1.3 million is set for operating capital.
Operating expenses are day-to-day costs associated with running the town, like salaries and fuel. Operating capital is an amount of money used to fund investment in longer-term purchases, like new tractors or police cruisers.
The increase in operating expenses was low this year, and operating capital is at a normal amount, the first selectman said.
Expenses rose 1.59% this year, compared to a recent average of 2.67%, and the capital budget came in at $1.3 million, right around a nine-year average.
The town’s suggested schools budget, which is proposed by the Board of Education, came in at $79.956 million. The total budget request for this year is $122,994,599.
Unlike previous years, each town department’s budget was reviewed prior to finalizing the proposed budget, “which resulted in suggested reductions of both operating and capital expenditures,” Mr. Brennan said.
“If we see something extraordinary, we fix it,” Mr. Brennan said Wednesday. “We reviewed basically the requests from the departments, and when it comes to it, the Board of Selectmen was very impressed with the budget requests. Some of them were below the previous year.”
There will be a public hearing on the municipal budget on Tuesday, March 24, 7:30 p.m., at the Middlebrook Middle School auditorium on School Road.
To view a copy of the full budget, visit the Town Clerk’s office, in town hall.

An interesting look

A perusal of the town’s proposed budget gives an interesting look at the complex financial responsibilities the town maintains.
For instance, the town budgeted almost $6,000 to heat the Ambler Farm property in its last budget, but spent only $1,842 by March 2015, presumably because the Yellow House had high-tech insulation installed last winter. In the 2016 budget, the amount to be spent on fuel is 27% lower as a result.
At the town’s tennis courts, Parks and Recreation budgeted about $18,000 for operating costs, but spent only $7,503 so far this year as equipment repair and replacement costs were significantly lower than expected.
Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the proposed municipal budget amounts. Those numbers, which were located in the fourth paragraph, have been corrected.