UA-8412995-1 The Southport Globe: GOP ask $4.5M in cuts

Friday, May 4, 2012

GOP ask $4.5M in cuts

Republican Majority Leader David Becker, District 1, proposed a $4.5 million cut to the Fairfield budget for 2012-2013 when the Representative Town Meeting met Monday night. The cut was not voted on because that will happen next Monday night.
If the cut succeeds, the Town operating budget of $86.3 million would be cut $1.474 million, while the Board of Education budget of $148.8 million would take a nearly $3 million hit.
The total Town budget of $ 268,885,233 would then be a 2.2 percent increase instead of a 3.6 percent increase. Becker distributed a printout showing that the police, fire, and public works departments would be cut by approximately $300,000 each. Like others, Southport resident Don Burton said, “We’re not talking cuts, we’re talking about reducing increases.” However, the proposed town budget is mostly flat except for a Board of Ed increase and items that Becker said he didn’t want to cut because they affected the town’s credit rating, such as pensions, debt service, insurance, retirees’ health insurance, called OPEB, and the surplus.

The proposed Police budget is already a slight decrease over the present year’s budget. The proposed Fire budget is only a 4/10th of one percent increase (0.4 %). The Public Works budget increased by $1 million, but that money is earmarked for road paving, because the Board of Finance asked that paving money be put into the operating budget, rather than be bonded.
The Board of Education increase is 2.18 percent, but that includes a contractual increase for teachers of 2 percent. Most increases in the town budget are salary mandated, as well.

“You all voted for union contracts. Eighty percent of the budget is numbers that you all created,” said Suzanne Mishka to the RTM.
Those union contracts were a sticking point for some. Assistant Majority Leader Joe Palmer said he hadn’t heard anything from unions to make him think that things would improve for taxpayers. “This isn’t just a way to ease the tax burden. We’re trying to break the cycle of the tax burden,” he said.
Becker spoke of the many union contracts yet to be negotiated and said, “I believe a lower budget will set the tone.” “In a lot of ways, this is what austerity looks like,” said Becker of the cuts, adding that they were meant to “start a conversation.”

Many of the public who expressed their opinions came from Becker’s District One, naming addresses on Sasco Hill Road, Pequot Avenue in Southport and Old Dam Road. Assessments for some homes on those streets increased dramatically in the revaluation that went into effect one year ago.

One of Becker’s fellow District One RTM members, Eric Sundman, (R) said “I’m not supporting anything,” because of what he called the 800-pound gorilla, “Our assessments are going uncorrected.”

“There’s a lot of people here tonight who’ve had to come up with $10,000 more per year and we’re going to give them another 4 percent increase? No way!” said Sundman.

Resident Juliette Stirling said taxes on her Old Post Road home went up 25 percent last year and it’s assessed value (which is supposed to be only 70 percent of the market value) was $600,000 more than she could get if she sold it. READ MORE:

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