Formica requests increase in East Lyme budget

East Lyme - First Selectman Paul Formica is proposing a $16.21 million general government budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, or a 4.83 percent increase over this year's spending plan.

The preliminary budget focuses on maintaining public services, improving infrastructure and quality-of-life in town and continuing to support recreational activities important for economic development, Formica told the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday.

With debt service, capital and education, the overall town budget would stand at $66.71 million, or a 5.59 percent increase.

That number includes the superintendent's proposed $43.99 million education budget as a placeholder, since the Board of Education will approve an official budget later this month.

Debt service is set to grow next year by $323,190, or 6.76 percent. The town is beginning payments on the regional interconnection project to transport water between New London and East Lyme.

A $414,552 increase in capital expenses for the town - a 41.9 percent increase - accounts for road maintenance, the sixth year of its vehicle acquisition program and various town projects, according to the presentation.

The general government budget calls for an additional $68,004 to the public works department, as the town restructures the department's management. Funding to the building department will also grow by $13,012, largely due to part-time assistance to the building official, as the town anticipates more permits and inspections associated with new building projects.

The Parks and Recreation Department will grow by $22,056 to fully staff the new Niantic Bay Beach and Boardwalk. Revenue is also projected to grow from the anticipated beach traffic, said Formica.

Health benefits, pension payments, wage increases, workers' compensation insurance, information technology and liability insurance are among other areas of the budget with proposed increases.

Formica told the selectmen he welcomes their comments as they refine the budget at upcoming meetings. He will also detail the town's projected revenues then, since Wednesday's meeting preceded Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget presentation Thursday.

Once the selectmen approve a budget, the Board of Finance will begin its deliberations. The budget will ultimately proceed to a referendum vote in the spring.

k.drelich@theday.com

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