New London - With assurances from the mayor that he supports the City Council's proposed $82 million budget, the council approved the 2013-14 spending plan for the second time Monday.
A third and final reading of the budget is expected to take place at 7 p.m. today at City Hall.
The vote was split 4-3 with Council President Michael Passero and Councilors Wade Hyslop, Donald Macrino and Anthony Nolan voting in favor. Councilors Adam Sprecace, Marie Friess-McSparran and John Maynard voted against it.
"I can support this budget and I hope the City Council will adopt it and the city will move forward," Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said before the vote. "I will not veto this."
The $82 million budget represents $41.6 million for general government spending and $40.4 million for education. It is nearly $900,000 more than the spending plan proposed by Finizio earlier this year and restores nearly all of the cuts the mayor had proposed. The tax rate would increase from 26.6 mills to 27.5 mills.
Last week, Police Chief Margaret Ackley appealed to the Board of Finance to reinstate about $900,000 that was cut from her budget. She said the proposed $7.3 million police budget could mean eliminating 15 patrol positions.
But on Monday Finizio said that because some funding had already been restored to the police budget from his original proposal, and because the state may be sending the city more money than originally anticipated, there will be no immediate layoffs in the police department. Also, some officers will be retiring and some leaving for other jobs, he said.
"At this point there is significant funding restored to the police department," Finizio said. "At least through the first half of the fiscal year there will be no need for layoffs."
But he added there could be layoffs later in the year depending on how the city's finances are halfway through the fiscal year.
"We will make that assessment at that time," he said.
During the meeting, Sprecace proposed his own version of the budget, his third, which did not change the bottom line but shifted funds and increased some revenues and expense predictions. He also proposed a cut of about $400,000 to the education budget, saying he did not receive enough information from the Board of Education to support its spending plan.
Macrino and Nolan said they could not support Sprecace's proposed cut to education but agreed the council needs a better budget document from the school board.