Between 75 and 80 residents attended the Public Hearing on the 2018-2019 budget held at the Granby Memorial High School auditorium on April 9. The $45,254,588 budget represents a 2.78 percent increase in expenditures over the current budget, leading to a 1.98 percent increase in the mill rate.
Board of Finance Chair Mike Guarco stated that establishing a budget this year was particularly challenging due to the state’s fiscal difficulties. The information coming from the Governor’s office as to what towns might expect for revenue changed weekly, and in Granby’s case, resulted in a $300,000 decrease from what was expected. He noted that this budget draws less from the general fund than usual. He is disturbed that Granby’s credit worthiness may be affected negatively because of the state’s inability to be fiscally responsible.
The details of the budget have been published in the Drummer’s FY19 Budget Issue and in a detailed report available in the Town Manager’s office, the police department and both Granby Public and Cossitt Libraries.
In presenting the $15,599,746 Municipal Budget, First Selectman Scott Kuhnly said that in spite of the challenges, the goals and objectives of the Board of Selectmen remained as follows: to continue to maintain or increase the efficiency of town services by the use of new technology; to hold the line regarding the number of full-time and part-time employees; to meet debt service payments by budgeting from the Capital Reserve Set-aside Fund which is also used for meeting unexpected needs such as storm damage clean-up; to pay cash for some capital expenditures and/or spread them out over two or more fiscal years; to update the long-range operating and capital forecast models, and to budget revenue sources reasonably and put in place competitive user fees to fund certain essential and non-essential programs for all non-mandatory services.
Board of Education Chair Melissa Migliaccio stated that the BOE had worked very hard with the BOS and the BOF to come in at $29,654,842 — a 3.49 percent increase, which was actually under the 3.78 percent guideline. She also noted that whenever possible, over the years, any excess money has been returned to the town.
As always, state educational mandates drive the town budget. An expected decrease of 44 students has lead to a reduction of 7.76 staff members.
After the BOS and BOE budget presentations, several residents made comments or asked questions.
Stan Walczewski inquired as to whether the town might invest the tax revenue it acquires. He was informed that the town does make careful investments, with the interest going into the general fund. Last year, the interest from CDs and money markets was $77,803.
Susan Regan expressed thanks to Town Manager Ward, was proud of Superintendent Addley for a good education budget, appreciates the BOF’s recommendations and direction and assistance to the BOS and BOE.
John Mahoney wanted to know if any decision had been made on the fate of Kearns School building. Answer, no. Then how much is it costing to maintain? $50,000 in fiscal 2018; $30,000 in 2019. Recommends bulldozing or selling to private ownership.
Beth Carroll while commending the town on the budget, hopes that a way can be found to increase revenue as the tax increase is becoming a burden.
Anna Sogliuzzo noted that the 1.98 percent increase in mill rate is actually much more to the majority of homeowners for whom the value of their property was increased during revaluation.
Rosemary Powers noted that town needs more revenue to keep taxes down; she is finding it too expensive to live here.
Tony King commended boards on budget; pleased with improvements in school district since 1989 and as he nears retirement age, pleased also with the numerous programs at the Senior/Youth Center.
Herb Hulbert asked what is being done with regard to school security. Migliaccio replied that physical improvements such as cameras have been installed but that further discussion of specific details is not in the interest of student safety.
Bruce Sullivan commended boards and staff and all the various agencies in town who work on the budget, appreciates their hard work in keeping costs down. These people work hard all year long, but are especially pressured during the budget process.
At the end of the Public Hearing, the Board of Finance met and determined that the budget would be submitted as presented to be voted on at the referendum on April 23.