Monday, June 19, 2017

APRIL 24, 2017
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Chairman John Grabowski called the Budget Hearing for the Board of Finance to order at 7:05 p.m.
The first order of business was to introduce the members of the Board of Finance present.  They were John Grabowski, Chairman, Sally Huyser, Sharon Huxley, John Ford IV, Melissa Spear, Robert Brinton Jr.
 The Hearing was held in the Bethany Town Hall Gym.  John gave a presentation for the expenditure side of the budget for 2017-18.  John explained that the tax collection should be $315,885 over the budget for fiscal year 2016-17.  There will be a surplus in the Amity budget that will be returned to the towns.  Our General Fund balance presently is 13.80 % of expenditures.   Towns still do not know if they will lose revenue from the State of Connecticut because of the deficit in the Teachers Retirement Fund and reduction in other State grants.  The present mill rate of 35.5 mills could increase to as much as 38.5 mills because of the reduction in other revenue and the teacher’s pension assessment from the State of Connecticut.   In fiscal year 2017-18 the towns will be paying 100% of the cost of a Resident Trooper’s salary and expenses. 
Chairman Grabowski then opened the Budget Hearing for comments and questions from the residents in attendance.
Aileen Kelly – Aileen a former teacher explained that teachers had contributed to the fund and now the State of Connecticut has borrowed from the fund.  The State should not access the Towns for their poor mismanagement.
Eric McDonald questioned how much has the Town spent of tax payer’s money for tree removal?  How many trees have been removed?  The Town has spent the $100,000 appropriated for this purpose. 
Eversource has been working to remove dead trees on the power line side of roads. When complete they will have trimmed or removed trees on 72 miles of Bethany roads.  Eric asked if the money appropriated had all been spent?  He was told that it had been.
Attorney McSherry explained the process the Town would have to follow if the Revenue portion of the budget were not complete by the Annual Town Meeting. 
First Selectwoman Gorski spoke regarding the problem with setting the mill rate if the Revenue portion of the budget is not complete.  We could be over taxing residents if we do not have final numbers.  
Carol Lambiaze asked what the balance was in the Land Acquisition Fund.  She was told there is approximately $192,000 in the account.
Patsy Weiner asked for some details about the Elementary School budget.
Chris Pittenger explained details of the Elementary School budget. Their budget has not increased in four years.  Since enrollment is down they have been able to reduce staff even though contractual expenses have increased.  The present enrollment is 342.  There will be 14 less students for next year. 
Shawn Uscilla asked if we have cut our administrative staff.  He was told we have not.
Dawn Stark spoke about keeping our real estate values up if we maintain a good school system.
Bruce Loomis asked as Chairman of the Conservation Commission, if the Land Acqisition budget could be increased to $100,000 and let the voters decide at the Town Meeting
David Forman commented that people should not put Land Acquisition against the education budget.
Janice Howard commented that the school staff has worked well with the Park and Recreation Department.
Jim Seaton commented that the Board of Finance had done a good job putting the budget together with the burden the State had caused.
With no further comments Chairman Grabowski called for adjournment of the Budget Hearing at 8:10 p.m.
                                                                                                                Respectfully submitted,
                                                                                                                June G. Riley
                                                                                                                Clerk, Board of Finance