The Montville Town Council Chamber was a ghost town Tuesday, compared to how it had been Monday, when people filled every chair, lined the aisles and spilled out into the hall.
On Monday, they’d been there to talk about the proposed school budget. (That meeting has been rescheduled to Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Montville High School).
On Tuesday, the citizens who did attend were there to speak their minds about the proposed budget for the general government.
Bob Manfredi stood first, to discuss what he believed was an error in the calculation of the rates and the tax increases.
Finance Director Terry Hart went over Manfredi’s calculations and showed him how she had done her work.
Later in the meeting, he accepted her calculations, though he said said he was not convinced. He said that he does not even own the land beneath his home, and called the increase in his taxes “disgusting.”
Kevin Fritch rose to say that he believed that the budget does not comply with the town charter (you can see the budget and the charter in the photo box that accompanies this story).
Fritch said he doesn’t know how anyone can review a budget accurately without knowing what has been spent .
“The same drama plays out every year,” he said.
“Without knowing what was spent on each item, you’re just guessing. It’s spelled out in the charter, that you’re required to do this.”
Russ Beetham, who has served in many positions in town, including first selectman and most recently, as a member of the town council, rose to express his surprise that an emergency finance meeting had not been called, in light of the bankruptcy of AES Thames.
He questioned the town’s expenditures vs. its income, especially in light of the general fund surplus, which stands at 5.2 percent of the total, below the 8 percent the charter sets as ideal.
“We’re in the red again,” Beetham said. “The surplus is shrinking and shrinking and shrinking.”
The budget proposed by Mayor Ron McDaniel totals $55,718,440 – a calculation based on a school budget of $36,632,735 – level with the current budget, not the school budget as proposed by the superintendent, which, at $37,627,497, shows an increase of 2.72 percent.
Resident Bill Dewire said that this revaluation marks the first time in his life that his house has been reduced in value.
“I expect you to do the same thing to your budget,” Dewire said, “Increasing taxes just does not make it.… You can’t keep on coming to the same well. The well is dry.”