New Fairfield elected officials, education demanded to keep budgets stable amid $ 113 million school project debt

NEW FAIRFIELD – With Debt Service Alone To Raise City’s Tax Rate By Over 4%, Finance Council Calls On School Board And Elected Officials To Aim For Zero Percent Increase In Their 2022 Budgets -2023.

The finance board reached that consensus on Tuesday after city treasurer Terry Friedman explained how the next round of bonds for the two school building projects will affect the city’s future tax rate.

Friedman said $ 33 million of the $ 80 million needed for the projects has been bonded so far and “will take us through to the end of February” – but the city is to back another $ 35 million over the course of the coming year.

The $ 35 million, coupled with the previously deferred bond principal, will result in an increase in the tax rate of 4.28 percent.

The city’s current tax rate is 31.49. With an increase of 4.28%, the rate for fiscal year 2022-2023 would be approximately 32.84.

Since any increase in operating expenses or capital expenditures would further increase the tax rate, the Finance Council is asking the school board and elected officials to “go zero” this budget season.

The chairman of the fiancé council, Wes Marsh, said the board has previously asked city department heads to come up with budgets without increases.

“I think the Board of Ed is very similar in telling their department heads that they have to keep budgets low because of the new schools and the impact of the liaison,” he said. “It will be a very difficult fiscal year.”

Finance board member Cheryl Reedy agreed and noted that due to the ties situation this budget season will be different from previous ones.

“In the past we’ve said to boards, ‘We can’t know what you need and what you’re going without unless you tell us,’” she said. “But this is one of those years when… if there are things that are emergencies, obviously we have to hear about them – but if there are things that need to be done, it really isn’t there. ‘year to do them. “

Although taxpayers knew the $ 29.2 million preschool learning academy and new high school approved in October 2019 would result in higher taxes, Reedy said a promise was made to try to keep tax increases low.

“The city voted for this huge school project and it’s huge in terms of the effect on the thousandth rate, and we promised people that we would do our best to keep the tax increases out of the way. ‘effect of the bond,’ she said.

Chris D’Esposito, member of the finance board, said that even though “times have changed” since the school projects were voted on, the finance board still has a duty to “find where we can save and cut costs to pay. schools. “

“We have to do our job, and all the departments have to do their job to find the money to make up for that,” he said. “They voted for the school project… so it has to be paid for, but it’s also our job to find other ways to offset some of these costs and do what’s right for the taxpayer.”

Knowing the difficult budget season ahead, Superintendent Pat Cosentino encourages community members to be “aware” and active participants in the process.

“A zero percent budget for the Board of Education is going to be very, very difficult,” she said Thursday. “I understand we’re all in a tough spot… but we’ve worked so hard over the past few years to develop our education system, and I want to make sure that if we’re going to take huge chunks of it, we” you are all agree.

The Selectmen board will begin meeting with city department heads about their budget plans on January 10, and Cosentino will present their school budget at 6:30 p.m. on January 20.

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