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EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to correct the percentage increase in the tax rate and the approved budget amount.
New London - The City Council approved an amended budget Monday night that is $145,000 less than the $81.3 million budget that it approved last spring but which was defeated at an August referendum.
After four nights of committee meetings, which included a review of Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio's revised 2013-14 spending plan, the municipal budget was unanimously approved and the school budget was approved 5-2 with councilors John Maynard and Marie Friess-McSparran voting in opposition.
The revised budget was put together with the help the council's new financial consultant Lee C. Erdmann. He is being paid $100 an hour to assist the council in navigating the city's finances. City Finance Director Jeffrey Smith also participated in the budget deliberations.
Police officer salaries
The revised budget represents a 2.89 percent increase in taxes. The tax rate will go up .77 of a mill from 26.6 mills to 27.37 mills. The tax rate under the budget that was defeated would have increased by 0.9 mills to 27.5 mills. The municipal budget now stands at $40,834,674 and the $40,409,666 education budget is now $5,000 less.
During finance committee meetings, councilors debated moving money around within the budget and reallocated $500,000 that will pay for six months of salary for six new police officers.
McSparran voted against the budget because of what she called $5,600 of "frivolous spending" by the school department. She cited $413 that was spent on flowers, $187 for car repairs and nearly $3,000 in hotel rooms. The expenses were explained by the schools: the hotel rooms were for professional development and were reimbursed with grant money; the car repair was for a flat tire a staff member got at the Nathan Hale school construction site; and the money for flowers was for funerals.