The work of Newtown’s finance authorities is axiomatic: seek economy in the increasingly expensive enterprise of running a town. And in watching the early work of the Board of Finance and the Finance Department impacting the next budget cycle, some actual axioms come to mind. Waste not want not. A penny saved is a penny earned. Less is more. For some residents who may, for example, suffer a bone-jarring commute along some of the town’s more pothole-pocked byways twice a day, the economic zeal of budgetmakers may seem more like parsimony.
During its regular meeting September 8, the Board of Finance approved contributing $47,185 the school district compiled from dozens of smaller line item surpluses in the 2013-14 budget, to a nonlapsing account earmarked for anticipated security-related “building hardening” expenses.
The distribution will act as matching funds to qualify the district for a larger security grant.
There is a certain subset of Newtown inhabitants who don’t need signs or maps to identify Church Hill Road. They see the churches from stone steps to spires, and their own heart rates and respiration tell them it is a hill. They are sidewalk walkers. We see them every day from our office perch on the eastern slope of Church Hill within earshot of the snap of the town’s famous flag — just below where the sidewalk ends. Unfortunately, it is not the magical and poetic place made famous in every child’s imagination by Shel Silverstein.
Saying she was presenting a spending plan that the Board of Education believes “helps us meet our budget goals,” which in part, plan “for the future needs of the Newtown public school system,” board Chair Debbie Leidlein reviewed a number of points in the proposal that will face further Board of Finance deliberation in the coming days.
The majority of the 20 residents who participated in the Board of Finance public hearing ahead of 2014-15 budget deliberations February 20 either asked officials to hold the line on the zero increase requested by the Board of Education, or to restore the $139,000 reduction made by the school board members before endorsing the final budget request.
Most taxpayers have little or no interest in municipal sewers, unless they stop working. But the Board of Finance has approved funding the construction phase of a Hawleyville sewer extension that is expected to serve as a catalyst for significant economic development in the area.
That prospect could provide measurable relief for residential taxpayers if large-scale commercial developments expected to tie into that new sewer extension help offset residential taxation in the coming years.
For the second meeting in a row, Board of Finance Joe Kearney spent time reviewing school enrollment and budget trends. While most of the core data he reviewed was the same as information Mr Kearney initially presented on January 23, he did adjust the coming year’s data to accommodate the 0.75 percent increase that Interim Superintendent John Reed requested from the Board of Education during a meeting on the same evening.
With a short list of topics to run past the Board of Finance Monday evening, First Selectman Pat Llodra started with the wintry weather. Joking that “we want a mild winter, on Friday through Monday,” she had her eye on the town’s recent snow removal costs. Weekend pay is time and a half on Saturdays, and double time on Sundays. She told the Board of Finance that, “We have experienced quite a drain already.”
Noting that a number of “bright, informed” residents are “looking for a gesture from the town,” regarding additional tax relief, Board of Finance Chairman John Kortze stressed that he wanted his “[board members] to have the dialogue” during a January 7 special meeting.