Plus-one budgets presented at annual three-board meeting

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The Boards of Selectmen and Education presented their Plus-One Budgets to the Board of Finance and town residents at the annual Three-Board Meeting held on Jan. 22. First Selectman Scott Kuhnly began the meeting with a brief explanation of the Plus-One process, which calls for the BOS and BOE to meet with the BOF to review expenditure needs. Following this meeting, the BOF provides a preliminary guideline for the BOS and BOE to use in formulating municipal and education budgets.

Kuhnly went over the details of the proposed municipal budget, which is developed to maintain the town operations that residents need and expect, while covering the expenditures for salaries and benefits. Some add-backs have been included that reflect additional needs for town services (IT operations, library services and an additional public works person for half-year.) As of Jan. 22, three contracts were still being negotiated, so obviously the budget as presented was not yet complete.

The municipal budget as presented was $732,800, which is a 6.8 percent increase over the current operating budget. This budget meets the minimal requirements for existing town operational needs for 2019-2020. If the add-back items are included, the budget is $799,900, or a 7.4 percent increase.

The most significant increases are in fringe benefits ($200,000 increase, includes health, Medicare, FICA life insurance and disability); wages and salaries for full and part-time ($192,000 increase, includes required step increases); and contingency and reserve miscellaneous ($110,000 increase, due mainly to a substantial increase in the deductible for underground storage tanks).

Board of Education Chair Melissa Migliaccio presented the BOE operating budget of $31,088,607, which represents a 4.83 percent increase over the current year. As usual, state mandates play a large role in the increases, many of which are in special education programs responding to the rising social and emotional needs of today’s youth. The BOE has been aggressive in reducing staff, adjusting to declining enrollment, which for Fiscal Year 2020 is 44 fewer students. In an effort to make the district attractive to potential newcomers, some programs such as the new string program and the continuation of Mandarin Chinese have been implemented.

The details of the municipal and education budgets are available for residents to review

The education budget can be found at the Granby Public Schools website under BOE/budget. You can see the details of the municipal budget by requesting to see a copy in the Town Hall.

BOF Chairman Mike Guarco noted that the town continues to struggle to balance the needs and wants of the town government with what the taxpayers are willing to pay. He noted that the increase in housing due to the various new developments will add to town revenue in an as yet unknown amount. The town’s portion of the bridge repairs and the projected installation of solar at the high school will certainly affect the budget. As usual, the state budget is still to be determined; it will probably be finalized in February.

Further consultations with the town departments and workshops will occur between now and the budget vote, which will take place on the fourth Monday in April, as per town charter.

After budget presentations, residents were welcome to make comments or ask questions. Nelson Toussaint cautioned the boards to take heed to BOF Chairman Mike Guarco’s recent article in the Drummer that noted that a recent commission on economic stability called for the state to get a grip on its spending and to stop raising tax rates year after year as that becomes counterproductive as a revenue source. Toussaint requested diligence in separating the town’s wants from its needs.

Susan Regan complimented the BOE on doing “a phenomenal job” of running the education department and suggested that it would make a good template for town operations, as well.