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Council OKs $132.6M Budget, $1.8M More for Schools

The Common Council approved the mayor's proposed 2012-13 spending package — and freed up significant funding for the Board of Education, added three more police officers and took $850K from the general fund.

 

Property taxes will increase slightly less than a mill — by 3.1 percent — under the $132.6 million budget approved by the common council Thursday and the school board will receive $72.55 million — $1.8 million more than proposed by the mayor for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property values.

The Democratic caucus prepared an extensive document with changes to Mayor Dan Drew’s budget recommendations, most notably the education budget, pension fund and contribution to the general fund.

The only individual who spoke up during the public session was former Mayor Sebastian N. Giuliano, who urged the council to fully fund the pension.

“If you make an exception this time, the exception has a way of becoming the rule. Once you open that door, it’s very difficult to close it. I would suggest you don’t go down that road.”

Democratic council members went to great pains to defend their amended budget, saying they came up with a sound alternative during tough economic times.

Councilmen Gerald Daley and Todd Birch both said the members of the public who turned at the last budget workshop to plead for fully funding the board of education’s budget and who said, “please raise my taxes,” to improve the city’s underperforming schools impressed them.

“All in all this is a very sound budget. I urge the council to accept it,” Daley said.

Majority leader Councilman Tom Serra said members were faced with difficult choices. “We’ve got flat funding from the state, no grand list growth [mostly because of the loss of Aetna], the increased cost of insurance and raises to employees who deserve them because they’ve gotten zeros for a number of years.”

The four Republicans on the council , something that Daley said had not been done in many, many years.

Councilwoman Kleckowski warned against the dangerous precedent of increasing the school budget, citing Connecticut state statute, which requires school budgets to be funded at or more than the previous year’s.

“I’ve been positively clear and consistent on the board of education, given the additional $1 million given to them last year and the $1.8 million this year is too risky a venture,” Kleckowski said. “Next year, we’ll be starting at $1.8 million higher. There’s no way to regress.”

Councilwoman Linda Salafia agreed.

“I can’t go for an increase to the board of education budget. If I could vote [on portions of the proposal] individually, it would be great. I don’t think we should be giving them more money, somewhere that money is there. They were able to come up with more last year.”

At the conclusion, Drew was satisfied with the outcome and said he was pleased that although there were many conflicting views, everyone expressed them effectively and without rancor.

Drew presented his $132.3 million budget April 2 to the . The $132,270,972 spending package for the 2012-13 fiscal year represented a 1.6 percentage increase over . His proposed budget would have meant a one mill increase in the tax rate — an annual increase of $165, or $13.75 monthly, for the average homeowner with an house valued at $235,000.

Last year's lowered taxes 1.1 percent and approved $70.6 million for Middletown Public Schools.

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My Opinion May 11, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Whatever happened to a balanced budget. It's soooo easy for the Dems to just raise TAXES. Wish I could do what they do with my personel expenses. Why not put forth to the voters in November budget issues for funding, and we'll see the real view of the majority of people, not just those few who can show up at the Common Council meeting.
Rick Uliano May 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM
It's a shame that the budget is not available to the public prior to the Council meeting set to approve it. This policy and action does nothing but propogate the view that there is something to hide. Every increase in taxes in today's economic environment has a significant impact on the tax payer. Whether it be an increase in state taxes and municipal property taxes, the governments of this state are squeezing every last dime out of the tax paying public. The hard working, tax paying middle class is dying out here and the politicians continually demonstrating their lack of responsibility to be fiscally sound and good stewards of the taxes collected.
Middletown Insider May 11, 2012 at 01:00 PM
http://www.middletowninsider.com/2012/05/republicans-caucus-budget-proposal.html Here is a link to the changes in the budget suggested by the Republicans- no tax increase required!
Middletown Insider May 11, 2012 at 01:07 PM
It is available!!! You have to go online or to City hall to get it it's not going to be hand delivered to your door- be pro active for once!
Darrell Lucas May 11, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Why dont you send a friend to represent you? Out of all of the people who spoke up at the meeting last week only 3 disapproved of a tax increase. The rest asked that the BOE get fully funded and some even said 'raise my taxes' to meet that demand. Those people got what they wanted. If you dont make the time to stand in front of the council to tell them how you feel. If you dont talk about it with people who live in Middletown to go in your behalf. Then you just as well say you accept a tax increase. Then to only comment your disposal in a press story ... well your just wasting your breath (or your keystrokes). I was at that meeting. In fact there were about 100-150 in that room. Three people represented the portion of people out of 60,000 that didn't want higher taxes. You get what you ask for. But you didn't ask.
Peter N. May 11, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Darrel you are so naive its not even funny, its scary- the Democrats on Council want a tax increase! People always vote for them no matter what- so doesn't matter if people speak up or not
Darrell Lucas May 11, 2012 at 07:47 PM
It doesn't matter huh. That's a good attitude. Lost hope have we? Guess you have stopped voting as well. Stop complaining and start doing. Oh and welcome to patch first time commenter. :-)

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