SOUTHINGTON – Town Manager Mark Sciota has released his proposal for the 2019-2020 general government budget, calling for a 3.45 percent increase. Sciota says this increase is largely as a result of reductions in municipal retirement payments and the town being made to shoulder more teacher pension costs by the state.
The proposed general government budget for 2019-2020 is $55 million compared to last year’s adopted budget of $53.2 million. This represents an increase of $1.8 million or a 3.45 percent increase. This also means a general government mill rate increase from 11.83 to 11.86 percent.
The budget includes the hiring of two new firefighters and the reduction of one clerical staff member.
Sciota said the proposal was submitted after “extensive work” by department heads who he gave direction to in December. In many cases, Sciota said, those department heads exceeded his expectations looking for possible savings and budgeting with the town’s residents in mind.
Sciota also thanked the town’s economic development team, whom he said contributed toward bringing in more revenue.
“I would like to recognize the exceptional efforts of our development team and all that they have accomplished in attracting new business and new residential units,” he said. “This past year’s rise in our Grand List of 1.49 percent, caused an increase in revenue of $l.8 million without raising the mill rate.”
However, while additional revenues were found in the Grand List, Sciota said that an increase to the town’s contributions for the retirement payments for municipal employees (MERS) created an “unexpected demand.”
“The town’s contributions for MERS payments increased $600,000 more than we anticipated,” he said.
Sciota added that Gov. Ned Lamont placed an additional obligation on the town for teacher pension cost sharing.
“For fiscal year 2019 to 2020, it is estimated to be $270, 241,” said Sciota.
In addition to the department heads, Sciota thanked the assessment and tax team led by Teresa Babon and the finance team lead by Emilia Portelinha for their “tireless efforts” in assisting him in crafting the budget.
Sciota also praised the partnerships between town departments, the Board of Finance and the Town Council for “their continued commitment to providing the best services revenue can support and their effort to preserve town services.”
Going forward, a public hearing will be held March 4, at 7 p.m., at DePaolo Middle School, 385 Pleasant St. The budget will be brought before the Town Council March 27. The Council will hold an additional public hearing on the budget April 22 in the public assembly room of the Municipal Center, 200 N. Main St.
The council is required by the town charter to adopt a budget no later than May 13 and the Board of Finance must fix the tax rate by May 20.