Accelify Blog

Seymour Cuts $1 Million From Budget (CT)

May 19, 2010

The finance board trimmed slightly more than $1 million from the 2010-2011 proposed budget Tuesday.

The budget has been rejected twice by voters. It goes to the public one more time, May 25.

The latest version of the budget carries a tax increase of just under 1 mill — 0.98.

A property assessed at $200,000 would see a tax bill increase of $196 next year.

Among Tuesday’s reductions:

  • The school budget — by $690,000, which means the education budget will remain flat in 2010-2011. That is two years in a row with no additional money to Seymour schools.
  • Two percent reductions to the salary lines of all town government departments, to save $293,428. With retirement and Social Security savings in there as well, the savings more than doubles, to $625,969.

School officials said no new money means the district has been cut to the bone.

“This is our second zero in two years,” said Superintendent MaryAnne Mascolo. “This will affect services. Any new positions — the vast majority of those will be gone. With a zero increase, we’ve met the minimum state requirement. We can’t go any lower.”

With few exceptions, state statutes require that school districts not have lower budgets than in the previous year.

Failure to at least maintain the district’s current $21.1 million funding level could risk the district’s state special education funding.

The school district’s three-year plan had called for 19 new positions, 17 of which were full time, in the first year, 2010-2011.

Mascolo sai d all of the positions will have to be looked at now and many will not be filled.

For now, the budget includes no layoffs. Almost all school district personnel, including teachers and central office administrators, have taken wage freezes.

Finance board member Kristen Harmeling tried to get $200,000 for the school district, but wasn’t successful.

“So we’re asking them, in the face of increased transportation, special education and health insurance costs, to take a zero two years in a row and we don’t think that’s cutting into essential services?” Harmeling said.

At Monday’s finance board meeting, Associate Superintendent Christine Syriac told the board that a $200,000 increase would be the minimum required to maintain current services.

The 2 percent cut from the salary lines of all town departments is the equivalent of four furlough days. First Selectman Paul Roy said three of four town unions had verbally agreed to furloughs, wage freezes or both.

After protests from Police Chief Michael Metzler that furlough days for police officers would cost more money than it would save because of minimum staffing requirements, finance board members put the 2 percent cut back into the police budget.

They did, however, remove $71,000 for wage freezes to which the union is expected to agree.

The school district, which comprises 60 percent of the town budget, was cut a total of $1.66 million from the first, $30.78 million budget
proposal.

Municipal government, now at $14.95 million, has been cut by a total of $2.3 million.

Of that, $1.35 million of cuts comes from not funding any capital projects. The rest of the $49.37 million budget includes $5.3 million in debt service, elderly services and contingency funding.

If the third budget proposal is rejected at referendum May 25, Finance Board Chairman Mark Thompson said drastic cuts could be seen in town government.

These could include closing the library for a few days per week, closing town departments, or selling town-owned buildings.