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Handful of Citizens Speaks at Public Hearing

The general government portion of the proposed budget fails to draw the crowd that the school budget drew

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.”

theinformant April 18, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Let’s face it; this Mayor was not elected because he was a highly educated business manager. You can see from the budget he proposed how true that is. He was called in a roundabout way a slum lord when he first came to office, by a resident who lived by a property he managed. He is being sued for not properly cleaning one of his properties he was responsible to keep clean during a snow storm. He can’t handle an employee problem that is being railroaded, when the stories are out there are saying the employee wasn’t involved in the incidents, but because he was in charge, he is responsible. Instead he dumps it onto the council, who according to the charter hasn’t the authority to fire him. What kind of discipline was given to the employees who were involved, that’s probably not a concern because they’re not trying to railroad them? He was a probate judge for 8 years. What contact did he have with the town to understand how the town operates? He was elected by 2000 votes, most coming from where he patronized every day. When you patronize the same establishments every day, people get to know you and because he is a likable guy they vote for him, not because he is qualified to do the job, but because he is a likable guy. This is just the beginning as to what’s to come in the next four years, that is if he lasts that long. He might realize his mistake and do Montville a favor and resign.
Tricia W. April 18, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Informant: I don't see the point you're trying to make about the budget. From what I'm reading, the mayor is trying to make points with residents who don't have kids in the school system by slashing the BOE budget to nothing.
Gary April 18, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Tricia, nobody is slashing the BOE budget. They Simply are not getting an increase. They need to learn as the Rest of us do that you have to live within your means And can't keep going up every year. As always the superintendent goes To the media with threats of large scale layoffs but doesnt Mention all the money they sorbs on non teaching items like New furniture, confrences, etc. stop the madness people. We can't keep giving money away.
Howard April 18, 2012 at 07:10 PM
The Board of Education (BOE) asked for $37,627,497. The mayor is wiling to give the BOE about $36.6 million. That is essentially a zero growth budget. Pardon the grammar here but $36.6 million is not nothing. Frankly it indicates the both the mayor and the BOE are out of touch with the fiscal reality in New London County.
Sam Rogers April 18, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Trish: $36,632,735 is not "nothing." I sincerely hope that for all that money, the children in the Montville schools have better math skills than yours. As to your political point, surely you've got it backwards. Isn't it obvious that the mayor is actually trying to make points with residents who have kids in the school system, by increasing the town government side of the budget by only .02% ?
Howard April 19, 2012 at 12:56 PM
The Board of Education (BOE) asked for $37,627,497. The mayor is wiling to give the BOE about $36.6 million. That is essentially a zero growth budget. Pardon the grammar here but $36.6 million is not nothing. Frankly it indicates the both the mayor and the BOE are out of touch with the fiscal reality in New London County.
J. Arrington April 19, 2012 at 08:34 PM
The Mayor presented a PROPOSED budget to the Council. The Council has the right to made additional cuts as well as add more funding to any line item in the budget except the Board of Education. With that budget, the Council may approve the Mayor's proposal or fund it as they feel it is needed. It can't be done by a line item decision. Trish, you're mistaken that the BOE is receiving nothing. Maybe a better way of stating your point, is that the Mayor proposed a zero increase for 2013. He and the Council should be careful, for they are at the point of meeting the CT State Minimum Requirement Budget for school funding. If they fall below that amount, the Town could be subject to fines such as loss of state and federal grant money. Take a look at this link: http://cga.ct.gov/2010/rpt/2010-R-0057.htm
Tricia W. April 20, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Okay, so you didn't understand what I was saying. Got it. There's no need to be nasty Mr. Rogers. I meant that the BOE is not getting an increase to cover their costs. That to me is nothing...zero. It means lay off teachers, cut programs, etc.
J. Arrington April 20, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Good point Howard. I think in order to properly calculate the MBR, the difference in enrollment population is required. Keep in mind, that the Town has an increase in ECS funds this year that I don't believe was calculated into their budget.
Howard April 20, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Regarding Education Cost Sharing (ECS) and the Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) it seems the baseline for Montville would be the FY09 through FY11 budgets (averaged?). What is confusing is how the MBR would be calculated for Montville. The enrollment this year is 2.756; for 2010-2011 it was 2,744; a decline of 168. The state’s Office of Legislative Research (OLR) report 2011-R-0241 seems to indicate that Montville’s MBR could be reduced (http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/rpt/2011-R-0241.htm). Here is a quote from the report. Districts with Falling Enrollment “Under the new MBR law, most towns whose school districts have fewer students enrolled than in the previous school year may reduce their MBRs for FY 12 or FY 13 by $3,000 times the enrollment reduction. But, the total reduction in either year cannot exceed 0.5% of the prior year's budget appropriation.” If I am it correct, Montville could reduce it’s MBR by up to $504,000 unless the 0.5% limiter engages in which case it would be about $185,000. That seems to indicate the budget could be at least $185,000 less than the 2010-2011 budget. Am I anywhere close to correct? Someone please explain if I am not.
J. Arrington April 20, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Tricia, the BOE has used tactics in the past to scare parents, especially when it came to extracurricular programs.
Howard April 20, 2012 at 09:14 AM
The ECS increase is $166,239. The BOE budget mentions it as an offset but appears to not deduct it from the bottom line ($37,627,497).

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