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Taxpayers Urged To Visit With Llodra, Officials Ahead Of Budget Vote

First Selectman Pat Llodra and various officials from the Boards of Education and Finance and the Legislative Council will be available to hear from and respond to taxpayer questions during the final two open office sessions at Newtown Municipal Center.

A second-round budget request goes before qualified residents Tuesday, May 14. And Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia is holding special absentee voting hours Saturday, May 11, from 9 am to noon.

The Legislative Council endorsed a second round budget request with a combined $900,000 reduction, making the new school district request $71,345,304 and the municipal request $38,904,521. The municipal side of the budget includes all previously committed debt service costs for all town and school capital projects equaling $10,058,924.

The council action made the bottom line on the second-round request $110,249,825, representing a 3.87 percent increase in spending over the current year.

If approved, the increase will generate a 2013-14 mill rate of 33.43, reflecting an estimated average 4.29 percent increase in taxes when property value reductions in the latest revaluation are taken into account. (Sixty percent of taxpayers should expect a tax increase of 4.29 percent or less.) A mill represents $1 in taxation for every $1,000 in taxable property value.

Budget reductions incorporate a $150,000 cut to the municipal request and a $750,000 cut to the school district’s spending plan. Polls at Newtown Middle School will be open from 6 am to 8 pm in that single budget polling location.

The first round school budget failed by 482 votes with 1,994 supporting the request and 2,476 rejecting it; while the town proposal, which also contains all town capital debt service, failed by 66 votes — 2,207 endorsing the request with 2,273 voting No.

Response to new budget questions appearing on the ballots this year informed town leaders that both previous requests were too high, even though the text of the questions are phrased in the negative, asking voters if they voted No on separate budget proposals because they were “too low.”

This is the second budget cycle during which Mrs Llodra opened up her office, and called upon other key elected leaders who are close to the budget process to be available to concerned residents who may want to make observations about planned spending, or ask about certain aspects of the budget in private.

The First Selectman’s extended hours have been ongoing since Monday, May 6, and she is hoping to see or speak with any taxpayers with reservations about the current proposals..

“Residents are welcome to visit either this Saturday from 4 to 6 pm or Sunday from 2 to 4 pm,” Mrs Llodra told The Bee. “And if they can’t make it in, they can direct questions to me by phone or e-mail, or they can contact their district Legislative Council representatives.”

The First Selectman’s office can be reached at 203-270-4201. Contact numbers and e-mail addresses of local elected leaders are available on the town website at www.newtown-ct.gov, under the Boards & Commissions tab.

Speaking about the municipal budget request, Mrs Llodra reminded residents that in the proposal prepared prior to the 12/14 tragedy, municipal operating costs were projected at 1.9 percent.

“The added funds are for a hopefully short-term solution to providing police personnel in all our schools,” she said.

Acting School Superintendent John Reed said this year’s school budget contains funds to make up for things like technology and maintenance projects that have been deferred or minimized in previous years.

Having already placed the district under a budget freeze for the remainder of the current fiscal year, Dr Reed said new initiatives in the proposed budget are now under scrutiny.

“I think it’s vital the budget has to be passed,” Dr Reed said. “The promise I will make is, the budget will be transparent. If there is a balance, that money will be discussed publicly.”

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