Montville school board won't get contingency fund to buy security equipment

Montville - The Town Council on Monday rejected a request to set up a contingency fund for the Board of Education, which the board had hoped to use to purchase security equipment.

"To do it at this time would be irresponsible," said Councilor Chuck Longton. He called the timing "appalling" and agreed with other Democratic councilors that they hadn't been given enough time to consider the issue.

Superintendent Pamela Aubin made the request in early June, asking the council add it to the June 10 agenda. In a letter to the council, she said she would like them to establish a nonlapsing account for funds from the 2012-13 fiscal year, which ended June 30.

At the June meeting, the council referred the issue to the Board of Finance for consideration. That board met later in June and recommended that the council vote against Aubin's request.

Dana McFee, the only Republican on the council, said he did not understand what the problem was when the Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of the nonlapsing fund.

"I have all the confidence in the world in the Board of Education," said McFee.

Mayor Ronald McDaniel, also a Democrat, said he understood the councilors' concerns about timing but encouraged them to reconsider the issue.

"It's an idea that has merit," said McDaniel, who noted that such accounts had been established in nearby towns. He said the fund would provide an incentive for the Board of Education to roll unspent money over at the end of the year and plan for large projects, rather than rushing to spend the surplus at the close of the fiscal year.

At a Board of Education meeting in May, Aubin suggested the nonlapsing account because she was "dismayed by the lack of funding for capital improvements" to the school in the 2013-14 budget. The Board of Finance had eliminated funding for a school security system and exterior door replacements from the mayor's proposed budget in an effort to keep taxes down.

When the Board of Finance met to consider the issue, Council Chairwoman Candy Bubendorf told Aubin that she was "not comfortable" with the account and reminded Aubin that she could request money from the town's rainy day fund in the case of an emergency.

"I'm still feeling burned from last year," said Bubendorf, referring to an incident in which the Town Council questioned several expenditures made by the school board during a tough budget year. "I'm not ready to jump into that yet."

k.catalfamo@theday.com

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