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Finance Board Reduces 2012-13 Budget $475K

2.41 percent spending increase sent to public hearing.

The Board of Finance (BOF) voted last week to reduce the 2012-2013 budget proposal by approximately $475,000 — $235,000 from the municipal budget and $240,000 from education. This proposal will go to a public hearing Tuesday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the (BHS) auditorium before the BOF finalizes the budget for the Annual Town Meeting, May 1.

The BOF passed the most recent proposal with a split vote, 3-3, with the tiebreaking “yae” coming from First Selectman Bill Davidson, an ex-officio member of the board who only votes in a tie.

According to Davidson, the proposed budget is “inadequate to meet some of the wants and needs of the town’s people,” but “not grossly inadequate,” he said.

“Some of the reductions on the town side we’ll find a way to deal with,” Davidson said, however — increasing clerical hours in the , more hours for Social Services and the and an additional part-time position at the — will likely be nixed, for a total of $35,000.

Davidson said he voted for the reduced proposal after “considering the conversation over Tuesday and Wednesday and the entire month of March, I got a feeling of where the board was at.” Had he voted no, the likely result would have been another motion “for lower numbers… and it would be supported,” in his assessment.

“It’s not horrific,” he said of the cuts, but, “It’s the difference between quality programs for residents and just getting through another year.”

On the education side, the reduction will likely mean a reduction in employees, according to Board of Education (BOE) Chairman Ray DiStephan, though the board will be officially discussing the cuts for the first time at their Wednesday night meeting.

“This is a major adjustment,” DiStephan said, as the $240,000 is nearly half a percent of the school budget, “And will probably mean a reduction in head count… we just have to talk about which heads.”

DiStephan said the BOE will likely not make a specific recommendation on how to adjust for the cuts until after the public hearing and the BOF’s proposal is finalized, though if it stands as-is, the earlier this year, as well as would be removed.

“That would just about barely get us there,” he said, stating that there are “not a lot of places to go” within the budget.

Phil Kurtz, a , said he viewed the current proposal as a “compromise budget,” wherein “not everybody got what they wanted, but it is a fair compromise.”

Kurtz said he and fellow new BOF member Robin Appleby were and while the proposed 2.41 percent increase is “maybe not 100 percent like we would like, it’s not 100 percent like what they would like, either.” However, he believes the cuts should not be crippling and the “schools can still go forward with, if not all the programs they wanted, most,” such as , even if an additional teacher cannot be hired.

Appleby, who said he voted against the proposal because it was too high, said he wanted to get the spending increase below 2 percent.

The 1.99 percent threshold is “sort of arbitrary,” Appleby admitted, “But probably further than the people want me to go,” he added, as he would have liked to keep spending as flat as possible year-over-year.

“The question is not if we can get to an arbitrary number, it’s about services,” said BOF member Ron Jaffe, who voted against the proposal along with Appleby and member Jen Tomaino, though Jaffe and Tomaino were in favor of the higher budget proposed by the Board of Selectmen (BOS). “We’re not a business — government is in the business of providing services.”

“Part of the equation has to be what do we think is a reasonable budget,” he agreed, however, “In this environment, where most people’s taxes would be reduced [], the budgets that were presented were good, tight budgets.”

All members of the BOF urged residents to attend the April 10 public hearing to voice their opinions before the proposal is finalized.

When it comes to the budget, “Historically, the Board of Finances have listened to what people say at the public hearings,” according to Davidson.

Longtime Brookfield resident April 10, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Rob - Just read this and you are 100% correct - we need you back on the BOE
Longtime Brookfield resident April 10, 2012 at 04:22 PM
THE BOE can cut down on frivolous LEGAL expenses - Thats a great place to start - What did it cost us to remove DOc Wolkind ? What other areas are we wasting Legal fees on in this current year . Seems to me that the school ADMIN / Superintendent make descisions that in turn cost us HUGE in legal fees - where can we see what the costs incurred by BOE on legal fees are
Steven DeVaux April 11, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Higher taxes = Lower home selling prices to first time homebuyers on a fixed budget. Raise taxes a dollar and lose four dollars on the selling price of single family homes and condominiums, it's that simple. The interestand taxes are non-negotiable for homebuyers so the only negotiation that happens is on principal so that the mortgage payment they are qualified for remains constant. It's not rocket science. That's one of the primary reasons Brookfield's home market is so much worse off than the surrounding towns that are moving 3-4 times the number of homes Brookfield is in terms of turnover.
Andrea Saunders April 11, 2012 at 09:46 AM
Which towns have lower taxes than we do???? Newtown, Bethel, Danbury, Ridgefield, Redding, and New Milford they all have higher taxes that Brookfield. (I got this from the State of Connecticut's website so I did my research.) So which neighboring towns are selling more houses then us because of their lower taxes?. I think it is the fact is that their towns have town centers and make improvements that people like and make them want to live there. I think if we get out town center done and well done and if we take care of our schools and keep them high in the ranking you will see Brookfield's homes in a better market. And the only way to get there is to fund those important aspects of our town. That is the only way.
Steven DeVaux April 11, 2012 at 10:12 AM
I checke the site and that's because it does not reflect the new Brookfield assessements and mill rate, the two keys (the mill rate has yet to be set). In absolute dollars, that being the amount you write your check out for to pay taxes on your car, boat, personal property and home. The bottom line for home buyers is their mortgage payment particularly with first time home buyers. If they can't afford the price of the home, the location of the home won't matter, especially in this economy - hence the reason all other towns are selling.

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