Friday, April 30, 2010

APRIL 19, 2010
Page 1 of 3
Attendance: Chairman Janet Brunwin, Chip Spear, John Grabowski, Stephen Squinto, Sally Huyser, Robert Brinton Jr.

Chairman Brunwin called the Budget Hearing to order at 7:07 p.m. The Budget Hearing was held in the gym of the Bethany Town Hall. There were 53 residents present.

Chairman Brunwin began with a power point presentation, giving details of the fiscal year ending 2008-09. Despite a shortfall in revenues, the year ended with a surplus which was returned to the Town by Amity.

Chairman Brunwin anticipates with the shortfall in revenue this fiscal year, and repairs for recent storm damage, the budget could be overall $200,000 over budget.

The Grand List is down for fiscal year 2010-11 due to a reduction in the assessment for the new power lines of Connecticut Light and Power. Personal property and real estate have remained the same while there was a slight increase in the automobile grand list. The budget as recommended to the hearing is 1.7% more than last year. If accepted as recommended the mill rate would be 27.475 by taking $100,000 from the General Fund. Property tax revenue covers 83% of the budget. The balance comes from State Grants. Education takes 74% of the budget.

Health insurance for Town and Board of Education employees will increase 18% unless a change to the Health Savings Plan is accepted by union members.

Chairman Brunwin explained that the Town Hall employees received no raise last year. Highway Department employees are in union negotiations at this time. A new line item was created in the budget entitled Union Negotiations for $51,176. This would cover any increases up to this amount for negotiations and pay increase for the Town Hall employees.

The Board of Finance likes to see a General Fund balance of at least 12 to 14% of expenditures.

The Chairman then opened the meeting for comments and questions:

David Foreman – Downs Road Is the cost of special education up because we have more students and the cost per student has increased ? Tim Connellan indicated the number of students is up and the cost per student has increased.

Russell von Beren – Wooding Hill Road Has all of the Local Capital Improvement money been requested? We should not budget so much for past due taxes. Why is the budget for Building Permits so low? Chairman Brunwin indicated we are current with the Local Capital Improvement money. The Board of Finance budgeted low as there are no applications for new housing permits.

Audrey Eisenstadt – Rainbow Road Why is Land Acquisition always cut from the budget? Land prices are down now. That is when we should be buying up open space.

Richard Barnes – Bethmour Road Teachers should not get a raise in these economic times. The economy is not going good even though things indicate that it is.

Richard Van Horn – Crestwood Road Why was the Contingency Fund increased to $50,000? If it is for Ice and Snow than the money should be put in Ice and Snow. Chairman Brunwin indicated that the Contingency Fund was increased due to the uncertainty of one Board of Education State Grant.

John Garcia – Fairwood Road Why don’t we look into insurance for ice and snow like some towns are doing. Why would we bond road repair. “That is deferred maintenance that will come back to bite us.”

Russell von Beren – Wooding Hill Road Mr. von Beren did not like the $51,000 line item for union negotiations. “That is not a good way to budget.” “No wonder the budget is high for ice and snow they are out there when we have 1/16 of an inch of snow.” The Board of Education increase the last two years has been 10% and that is unacceptable.

Kenneth Martin – Sperry Road I would like to see at least a small amount put into the Land Acquisition Fund

Audrey Eisenstadt – Rainbow Road It is unfair that the Town Hall employees have not received a raise when all other Town employees have.

Brian Laubstein – Toll Gate Road How long do we have to spend the $200,000 grant for the Airport? Chairman Brunwin indicated that it was five years.

Eileen Magda – Deerfield Lane What is the cost to run the Airport Hanger if it is restored? Chairman Brunwin deferred the answer to the upcoming Special Town Meeting of April 26, 2010.

Richard Barnes – Bethmour Road We should allocate for money for tree removal. As he walks there are many dangerous trees to be taken down.

David Foreman – Downs Road We may need to repair guard rails before roads are repaired.

Craig Stahl – Wooding Hill Road I disagree with the line item of $51,000 for salary negotiations. Increases should be put on the specific line item. Chairman Brunwin explained that is not possible with union negotiations in progress. The Board of Education is way over budgeted. Class sizes should be cut and teachers when not teaching should be made to teach another class.

Randy Raddatz – Bethridge Road Why do we have two headmasters when enrollment is dropping? “We only need one headmaster and one superintendent. All other staff should be cut. He questioned the tax discount that had been given to Laticrete. When will it end?

Chairman Brunwin adjourned the Public Hearing at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted

June G. Riley
Clerk, Board of Finance