Board Of Selectmen Make Few Changes In $286.7 Million Fairfield Budget

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The Fairfield Board of Selectmen voted to approve an increase of just over $42,000 to the town budget at their meeting Tuesday afternoon. The Board of Finance will vote on the budget on Thursday night.
The Fairfield Board of Selectmen voted to approve an increase of just over $42,000 to the town budget at their meeting Tuesday afternoon. The Board of Finance will vote on the budget on Thursday night. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The town budget process moved forward Tuesday afternoon after the Fairfield Board of Selectmen agreed to approve an additional $256,000 in funding for school security to the fiscal year 2015 budget, without adding too much to the overall total spending plan.

At the end of the board meeting Tuesday afternoon, the selectmen passed a budget with an increase of just over $42,000 in spending, keeping the overall budget increase at 2.67 percent.

Much of the money found to cover the $256,000 in school security funding was found in a $250,000 savings in the town’s health insurance estimate, according to the February renewal.

The total budget now is at $286.7 million budget for the 2014-15 spending year.

Talk at the meeting revolved around the idea that the budget was a balancing act. The town is weighing what services will be provided and what can be lived without, the selectman said.

“Much of the ongoing budget debate is centered on the concept of affordability,” said Selectman Cristin McCarthy-Vahey. The budget “can’t be all things to all people.”

In total, nearly $3.8 million in adjustments were made from town departments' initial requests for next year’s budget before First Selectman Mike Tetreau brought the budget to the full board March 6.

“Everybody is trying to do their best to do more with less as we go through this,” Tetreau said.

A $25,000 cut to the Pequot Library funding request was kept, leaving the nonprofit library with $325,000. The line item prompted a brief discussion regarding funds to nonprofits.

“I just don’t know if it’s the right time to take an action against any one particular nonprofit,” Selectman Kevin Kiley said in moving to restore the $25,000 to the Pequot Library.

However, every single department in town, including the library system, has had to make cuts. “We have asked everyone to share” in keeping the tax rate from rising, Tetreau said. The $25,000 was less than 1 percent of the library’s total budget, he said.

A part-time position in the finance department had been up for being cut, but a vote of 2-1 kept the $35,507 in the budget.

The selectmen approved taking $500,000 out of the bond premium reserve to help the Board of Education address a health insurance hole. This won’t cause a tax increase this year, Tetreau said. But because the $500,000 was initially slated to be used in debt reduction in Fiscal Year 2016, a tax increase will come then.

The Board of Finance will vote on the $286.7 million budget at a special meeting on Thursday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Board of Education offices on Kings Highway East.

Further cuts or increases may be made at that time before the Representative Town Meeting votes on the budget on May 5.

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