$87 million budget for 2014-15 sent to Waterford RTM

Waterford - The Board of Finance approved an $87 million budget for 2014-15 during a special session Monday night. The budget, which now goes to Representative Town Meeting for final approval, is $5,800 less than the total after the recent departmental budget hearings.

The proposed budget shows a tax rate increase of 0.85 mills to 24.9.

At the meeting, board members debated cutting $100,000 from the school budget. But members voted 4-3 against cutting the $100,000 and then 4-3 to approve the proposed $44.8 million school budget, which shows a half-percent increase over the current budget.

"The Board of Education has always managed to underspend its budget, generally by a significant amount," said board member John "Bill" Sheehan, who proposed the reduction.

Board member Anthony Jessuck questioned why Sheehan had not proposed the reduction when the board discussed the school budget last week and noted that Sheehan had attended budget workshops held by the district.

"I'm a little bit confused about why you want to cut from the budget," he said.

Board member Alan Wilensky cast the deciding vote on the school budget. Wilensky, who sits on the School Buildings Committee and has a daughter attending Waterford High School, said at the beginning of the meeting that he would abstain from voting because he had been absent from the past two weeks of budget hearings.

He said after the meeting that he changed his mind because of the debate over the school budget and because Chairman Ronald Fedor had said he disagreed with Wilensky abstaining.

The board also reinstated $5,000 to the planning and zoning budget to buy new furniture for its office. The board had cut the funds at a budget hearing. A $10,800 deduction from the fire services budget for overtime and employment taxes more than offset the planning and zoning increase.

t.townsend@theday.com

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