Published May 15. 2014 5:45PM Updated May 16. 2014 12:40AM
Montville — The Town Council unanimously approved a $57.1 million 2014-15 budget Wednesday night, a 2 percent increase over this year's spending plan. Among the budget alterations made at the meeting was a nearly $20,000 raise awarded to Mayor Ronald McDaniel.
The finance subcommittee, which comprises councilors Laura Tanner, Joseph Jaskiewicz and Tom McNally, recommended the salary increase because, they said, the mayor's salary is not comparable with nearby towns of Montville's size. The mayor's current salary is $61,000; the council increased the salary to $80,000.
Councilors Billy Caron and Kathy Pollard voted against the adjustment to McDaniel's salary.
While Caron acknowledged that the mayor's salary should be increased, he said "it should have been done in moderation" - for instance, a $10,000 increase now and an additional increase a few years down the road. During Wednesday's meeting, he proposed a $70,000 salary for the mayor, but the proposal failed.
The approved budget contains $932,642 for capital improvement, $37,200,441 for the Board of Education and $18,973,038 for the general government. It will result in a tax rate increase of 0.31 mills.
The budget contains $21,120 for the Parks and Recreation department secretary, restoring the position to full time. It was reduced to part-time two years ago, but the department director told the council he needs more assistance in the department. Although he originally asked for another part-time staff member, current Parks and Recreation secretary Carol Higham assured the council that she could take care of the extra work if her hours were restored.
To compensate for the full-time position created, the council decreased the line item for a floating secretary at Town Hall. Higham began filling that position when her Parks and Recreation hours were reduced.
The council declined to approve funding for a 24th police officer, which Lt. Leonard Bunnell has been requesting for the past 13 years. He said the department has seen an increasing number of calls for help and cited a public safety study the town commissioned in 2012. The study suggested increasing the number of police to 30 in preparation for a move to a independent department, an action the council recently tasked an ad hoc committee with exploring.
Bunnell told the council he was disappointed in the decision not to fund an additional officer.
The council added $250,000 for dispatch equipment to the capital improvement budget, which McDaniel said would be necessary if the town decides to use its new public safety building to provide regional dispatch services.