WESTBROOK, Conn. – Voters headed to the referendum at the Mulvey Municipal Center on Tuesday, June 5 between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. so they could make their voices heard regarding a proposed $22.16 million budget.
The budget would allow the mill rate to decrease from its current rate of 22.22 mills to 14.79 mills, a reduction of 7.43 mills.
The decreased mill rate comes after many waterfront homeowners saw their properties increase in value by 70 percent after a recent reevaluation.
The grand list for Westbrook is currently at $1.307 billion compared to its grand list before the 2006 reevaluation which $807.74 million.
However, the Board of Finance reports that residents owning homes assessed at $200,000 would see a savings of $1,486 as compared to last year.
During a May 17 town meeting, residents learned that total proposed budget for the 2007/2008 fiscal year is a 6.62 percent increase over the present year’s budget of $20.79 million.
The Board of Selectmen’s $6.67 million proposed budget is 10.6 percent, or $638,237, more than the current year.
Increased funding was attributed to a number of categories.
The largest portion, 27 percent, or $172,217, went to payroll, the result of a 4 percent pay increase for town employees, $21,000 for an increased contract rate and overtime for resident troopers, and $15,000 for full staffing of constables.
The second largest portion, 13 percent, or $79,900, went toward recycling to pay for trucking, storage containers, and other related costs.
Benefits, which consists of 11 percent, or $73,274, of the increased cost was attributed to a 10 percent increase for health and dental services in addition to costs associated with worker’s compensation and social security.
9 percent, or $60,000 of the increased cost, went toward capital projects such as the library while another 9 percent, or $58,340, went toward professional services such as fees associated with Planning and Zoning and the Inland Wetlands Commission in addition to an increase in field maintenance.
Other portions of the increase included 6 percent, or $41,000 for fire protection equipment, 5 percent, or $30,175 for repairs and maintenance, 5 percent, or $29,000 for landfill costs, 4 percent, or $26,047, for utilities, and 11 percent, or $68,284 for other items such as municipal insurance and recreation department bus trips.
The Board of Selectmen’s budget includes $81,127, an amount additionally allocated by the Board of Finance that pays for a $100,000 capital line item for the Local Capital Improvement Program and $18,991 for an upgraded Zoning Enforcement Officer position.
That amount reflects a reduction of $17,509 which was associated with the new pay plan for non-union employees, $14,000 due to reduced legal fees, and $6,355 due to the elimination of various other items.
The $2.96 million debt service decreased by $28,545, or 1 percent, over this year.
The debt service amount was reduced because of a better than expected interest rate on the recent bond issue and the town’s Moody’s rating of AAA.
The amount reflects a reduction of $33,250 made by the Board of Finance after reviewing financial information.
The Board of Education’s $12.52 million budget is a 6.5 percent increase, or $766,540, over the current year.
The Board of Finance did not recommend cuts or increases to the Board of Education’s proposal.
In a separate power point presentation, the Board of Education indicated that the biggest increases in this year’s budget includes a 55.68 percent increase, or $105,900, for tuition, a 20.25 percent increase, or $42,767, for professional/technical services non-instructional, and a 14.93 percent increase, or $34,888, for purchased services.
The tuition increase is a result of additional out-of-district placements for special education students while the professional/technical services non-instructional increase came as a result of the implementation of phase one of a new student information system.
The purchased services increase pays for computer service, industrial waste disposal, classroom painting, battery back-up at the middle school, and elevator service.
The increased budget includes the creation of two part-time positions, a middle school library teacher and a curriculum teacher, along with two full-time positions which include a special education paraprofessional and a security monitor.
However, the Board of Education indicated those staff additions only make up .5 percent of the increase.
The biggest savings in the budget for next year includes a 46.22 percent reduction, or $88,360, for oil and a 31.97 percent reduction, or $27,502, for textbooks.
The oil reduction came after the district realized it used less than expected fuel oil this past year leading to the reduction of oil which needs to be purchased for next year.
Oil purchased next year has been locked in at $2 per gallon.
Text adoptions for 2007-08 were reduced lowering the textbook budget.
In the end, the Board of Selectmen’s budget makes up approximately 30.1 percent of the budget, the debt service is approximately 13.4 percent, and education is approximately 56.5 percent.