Municipal budget will presented with a 3.5% increase

First Selectman Julia Pemberton.

Gov. Dannel Malloy released a draft state budget last week that proposed a severe cut in funding to the town of Redding for fiscal year 2017-18.

According to the Connecticut Mirror, under the new budget Redding would go from receiving $1.4 million in state aid every year to owing the state more than $500,000 in teacher pension contributions.

Though the Board of Finance voted in January to stagger repayment of upcoming bonds for school projects and road restoration to “ease” a potentially large mill-rate increase due to those bonds, if the governor’s proposal were to be voted into effect, Redding would have to plan for a 3.5% municipal budget increase, at least.

Under Malloy’s budget, the town would continue to receive $1.2 million in state aid under various categories, including road repair and education cost sharing payments, but it would also be required to send Hartford $1.74 million to fund part of the state teachers’ retirement program, which has in the past been financed entirely by the state.

Board of Selectmen

The Board of Selectmen voted Monday to present a budget proposal to the Board of Finance of $14,787,000.

This is an approximately 3.5% increase over last year’s municipal budget, which was $14,287,132.

The Board of Selectmen had succeeded in getting its budget to a “0% increase” before the governor’s budget came down from Hartford. The new state budget forced them to account for $500,000 of lost revenue from the state, now seen in a municipal budget increase of 4.5%.

To help stunt the effect of this loss of revenue, the board made a number of extra reductions in its proposed budget, shaving $40,000 off an already “0% increase” budget.

Included in the $40,000 reduction was the potential layoff of a full-time police officer. This officer would be replaced by two school security officers — retired police officers hired on a per-hour basis. The full-time officer to be let go would be the last police officer who joined the police department.

Also considered in the proposed municipal budget is reducing the number of Concerts on the Green, from 11 in the summer to eight, reducing hours at Topstone Park, from being open until 8 p.m. to being open until 7 p.m., and reducing maintenance funds for the police department.

Malloy’s plan

The state has a two-year — or biennial — budget, and on Feb. 8 Malloy put forward a $40.6-billion budget proposal for 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The $18-billion budget for next year, 2017-18, proposes about $1.4 billion in spending cuts, along with about $320 million in new revenues, to help close a $1.7-billion budget gap.

Among the $1.4 billion in spending cuts is $408 million to be gained by transferring to the towns a third of the state cost for the pension plan that serves all public school teachers in Connecticut.

Among the cuts in the governor’s plan is $700 million in yet-to-be-negotiated concessions from 15 unions — backed by the threat of laying off some 4,200 state employees, about a 10th of the state workforce — if a package of concessions can’t be reached. The planned labor savings would rise to $860 million in the second year of the biennial budget.

The revenue increases in the governor’s budget plan also include proposals to raise tobacco taxes, start taxing hospitals’ real estate, and eliminate taxpayers’ ability to claim a tax credit for local property taxes when they pay state income taxes.

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