Council Adopts $56 Million Budget, $11.8 Million Capital Plan

Citizens Critical Of Spending Plan And Tax Increase


Montville has an adopted 2012-2013 $55.6 million budget that sets the mill rate at 29.33.

A property assessed at $150,000 will have a $4,399.50 tax bill.

The Town Council voted 6 to 1 to adopt the spending plan amid dissatisfaction on all sides.

“We have a budget that makes nobody happy,” Mayor Ronald McDaniel Jr. said calling it a “shared sacrifice.”

The council shaved $97,300 from the proposed budget it walked in with at Tuesday’s hearing, mostly attributed to cutting jobs, namely two administrative posts and the town’s assistant planner, the latter of which at least once councilor acknowledged will likely be restored given the layoff may violate the employee contract. That said, as McDaniel pointed out, the council was “quibbling over the pennies.” By way of example, it cut $250 for parks and recreation programming advertising.

“This is a bad budget. Re-do it and present us with a lower mill rate so people can afford to live in this town,” James Andriote Sr. said to scattered applause.

Around 60 people attended the hearing.

The one councilor that voted against the budget, Dana McFee, said he thought $300,000 should be restored to the Board of Education and deeper cuts should have been applied to the public works budget. When told he could have attended finance committee meetings held to examine department budgets he said his “opinion has been discounted” by the council and he prefers to bring his case “to the public and the media.”  And McFee repeatedly urged citizens to create a petition to force the budget to a town-wide vote.

Resident Robert Manfredi argued that the schools are getting more money to educate fewer children.

“We have declining enrollment,” he said and proposed the council “close one elementary school. “Due to this huge pending tax increase…reduce (the schools $36 million budget) by 5 percent at least and close a school.”  He said that the schools have more than 600 less children enrolled than in 2008 “and you want more money,” he asked during the public comment portion of the hearing.

One citizen, whose name was not clearly stated (and he declined to identify himself to a reporter and the sign-up sheet was missing after the meeting) said he couldn’t “support (paying for) the mediocre student anymore.”  

“Don’t expect retired citizens to cover it,” he said.

Michelle Deshong-Cure said she supported the budget and appropriations to education, especially. She said if something needed to be cut, let it be police weapons.

“When was the last time officers had to use their weapons,” she asked rhetorically. Put the money in our children, our future.”  

Councilor Rosetta Jones said that while she is supportive of education saying all her children have master’s degrees and one, a son is a teacher, she believes there has to be a “limit.”

“The town has been more than generous…like a giving tree,” she said. “This year we have unprecedented challenges. I am an advocate for education. My son’s a teacher. But there comes a time for sacrifices.”   


Crazy Lady June 06, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Well you all voted the democrats in office now you have to live with higher taxes, less education and demise of Montville as we know it. The one positive is the police will get new guns and now that the crime rate will go up as people can't afford to live here maybe they will get used.
J. Arrington June 06, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Ms. Jones, considering you are so supportive of the education in our schools, how do you explain the public works department having over $70k left over in this years budget and you just approved giving them that overage again instead of the extra money going toward education? It's wonderful that all your children have master degrees, but did they graduate from Montville High? Have you ever had a child in the Montville system?
Tricia W. June 06, 2012 at 02:38 PM
McDaniel is absolutely right. He and his cronies put together a budget nobody likes. That's because they didn't look at the bottom line. What they did was easy, cut the education budget to zero increase and decrease the hours of two town employees who are essential in bringing money into the town. Thank goodness the Council cut $250 from Parks and Rec advertising. That move will save the taxpayers at least .0001 cents on their bills.
Dave Bottigliere June 06, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Is anybody really surprised? Even in a "normal" year the town budget requires extreme dilligence and thoroughness with an understanding of the current and future issues facing the town and the residents that make up the town to be a "good budget". This is not an affluent town and the council should appreciate that with controlled spending. Are the recent increases in education spending giving better results? Do we need it with a declining enrollment? If people are moving to Montville for the "awesome" education system then why is the enrollment declining? We should just use some common sense and take a look at who we are and what we as a town can afford without crippling the residents. Bring all services including education back to affordable and sustainable levels. If the Montville business climate improves and the tax base enlarges then spending can be adjusted as needs arise without an undue burden placed on the current residents. The problem is that this requires hard work and may also be politically unpopular when the realization is communicated to the voters. Best use your votes wisely in the future, your finances may depend on it.....
Sam Rogers June 06, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Cutting the education budget to zero increase may or may not have been "easy," but it's a non-brainer for anyone truly concerned at tax increases (as opposed to just playing politics). This is because of Connecticut's Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR), the law that requires each town to spend at least as much on education as it did the previous year. Hence, Dana McFee's proposed $300,000 increase, if adopted, would commit Montville to the same amount in future years (in other words, a tax increase forever). Conversely, Robert Manfredi's call for a 5% education decrease sounds great for the taxpayer, but under the State MBR, would be illegal. There are two kinds of budget critics : people acting in good faith (and perhaps financial fear), but with no clue as to the legal realities (which also include bankrupty of the Town's larget taxpayer, and payment of the court-ordered Rand Whitney judgment), and those who take advantage of such people to try to score political points. As a Republican candidate for the state Legislature, Mr. McFee is presumably aware of the MBR law. By the way, Tricia W., in what way is the Assistant Town Planner "essential in bringing money into the town?" Can you demonstrate, with actual figures, any tax revenues attributable to Mr. Sanders, above and beyond his salary and benefits? I believe he is also the zoning enforcement officer, which in financial terms is certainly a pure loss, given the legal cost of enforcement.
Dave Bottigliere June 06, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Sam, Montville, like other towns, can petition the state to allow for less educational spending to cope with changing times, enrollments and other issues. If this were not the case towns could face bankruptcy should other unforeseen issues arise that would require funding via tax increases, especially if unobtainable from their current tax base. This was discussed in the previous administration as an alternative should it be determined to cut educational spending. So far Montville has chosen not to cut spending, as keeping it to no increase alleviates this need as it complies with the MBR and requires no work on anyones part. Until the budget is fully understood, the correct amount of spending and sacrifice will not be known. This requires work and hopefully the council will undertake this in the near future. Might be nice to start now for next year's budget so informed decisions can be made.
Tricia W. June 06, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Sam Rogers can rant until he's blue in the face. The end result will still be the same, this is a bad budget as Mr. Andriote stated in the article. The Council should take it back and re-evaluate the entire budget.
Ronald DeRosa (Editor) June 06, 2012 at 05:49 PM
We're getting some other comments on our Montville Patch Facebook page. Here's an example of one of them: Danielle Kant Ladia: Don't be ridiculous. Whether the taxes were raised or not, Montville is still a great place to live and raise a family. Follow us at facebook.com/montvillectpatch to receive daily news updates.
Elizabeth June 06, 2012 at 06:23 PM
"As a Republican candidate for the state Legislature, Mr. McFee is presumably aware of the MBR law" I doubt that he is aware of the law (and if I'm reading you right so do you). Once again, Mr. McFee is acting like a child by not talking with the council about his proposed changes and going straight to the public and the press. I can not believe that he thinks he's qualified for a position in the general assembly.
Sam Rogers June 07, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Dave, That's correct, but it wasn't done here, let alone approved by the state, so the idea that a 5% eduction cut could lawfully have been passed by the Council is still just a fantasy. More to the point, can you imagine the outcry had such a course even been suggested, given the sour grapes attitude of certain Board of Education members and the downright insolence displayed in the newspapers by the Superintendent toward the Mayor? Maybe it would be a good idea to start planning now to petition the state to allow an actual education cut next year. On the other hand, maybe just finding a cheaper superintendent would be a good start. $150,000 a year for someone who insults Montville's ordinary working citizens and elderly with her arrogant refusal to go along with a zero-increase budget is more than we should have to bear in these tough times.
Sam Rogers June 07, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Tricia W., No need to get upset with me. Why not just tell us all what you think should have been passed by the Council instead? You don't want a tax increase? Me either. But given the loss of $1.2 million in tax revenue from AES Thames (because bankrupt companies don't pay taxes), another $1.2 million or so to Rand Whitney (because a court says we have to), the loss of $600,000 in state education funding, and so on, what would YOU do? What would YOU cut, to make up for these losses without increasing taxes?
theinformant June 07, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Look Sam You know nothing about budgets, that’s plain to see by your comments. I know Andriote personally and I also know he knows a lot about budgets and the charter. Yes before you say it, he doesn’t get elected when he runs for office. I believe the Democrats are so afraid of him because he doesn’t play politics with people’s lives, that’s why he doesn’t get elected. He has the knowledge; he just doesn’t get the chance to prove it. By the way, Mr. Andriote said at the meeting, things were left out of the Budget, including the money lost from AES, LOCIP and TAR. He even said the Mayor inflated the numbers from the money given to the town with designated amounts. Also, Mr. Andriote has taken out a petition already.
Liz June 11, 2012 at 12:07 AM
The truth of the matter is the budget would not pass an independent audit, does not allow for the educational package of changes and mandates from the State legislature's recent adoption, and further educational issues are on the table in the State's "special" session June 12th. Investigate the numbers, especially for legal fees, and how underfunding State mandates will impact the school system and the town. And $150K/year isn't enough to have to deal with the Mayor.


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