Stonington budget starting at $65.9 million

Stonington - Taxpayers here would face an approximately 3.2-mill tax rate increase if the preliminary 2014-15 budget was passed intact.

That is highly unlikely as the Board of Finance has yet to begin its review of the budget before making cuts and sending its proposal to a spring referendum vote.

The town and school spending plans total $65.9 million, almost $8 million or 13.7 percent more than the current $57.9 million budget.

One of the biggest increases comes in the current $1.1 million capital improvement plan, which would jump to $2.5 million.

The school board is proposing $1.4 million in capital spending, much of which would be used for security upgrades to the schools. The town is looking for $1.1 million in capital spending, much of it for road and drainage work and replacement of police cruisers.

The school budget would increase $1.3 million, or 4 percent, from the current $33.7 million to $35 million. Much of the increase is due to salaries, health insurance, fuel and tuition for special education and magnet schools.

First Selectman Ed Haberek's town government budget would increase $435,450, or 1.8 percent, to $23.7 million. Over the past several years, the town government budget has shown almost no increase.

Haberek's proposal calls for giving an additional $10,000 to each of the three libraries that serve the town. He is also calling for increasing funding for the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center by $20,000, to $165,000. Funding for the Stonington Community Center would remain at $40,501.

His budget also calls for fully funding the vacant director of planning position at $87,040. Haberek could not be reached for comment this week about his budget proposal.

The finance board is slated to review department budgets on Feb. 5, Feb. 12, Feb. 26 and March 5 and then hold deliberations to develop its budget proposal on March 12, March 19 and March 26. All meetings will be held at 7 p.m. at the police station. A public hearing on the finance board's proposed budget will be held at 7 p.m. April 10 at the high school.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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