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For New London City Council, budget cutting begins

New London - Following an edict from voters at an August budget referendum, the City Council will begin deliberations Tuesday to reduce the current year's $82 million budget.

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio has proposed a $588,543 reduction in the 2013-14 budget. The money comes mostly from savings in unemployment insurance and benefits due to departures from the police department. There is also a $5,000 cut to the Board of Education spending plan.

Finizio's new budget proposal is $81,391,437 - $40 million for education and $41 million for general government. The increase to the tax rate would be 3.4 percent rather than 3.8 percent. The tax rate would be 27.49 mills. The current rate is 26.6 mills.

The committee will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

"This is a balanced budget that should be maintained throughout the Fiscal Year without the need for layoffs, barring any unforeseen financial shortfalls, or acts of nature that overburden our existing resources in the coming fiscal year," the mayor said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

"I respect the concerns that have been raised for greater budget transparency from the school administration,'' he said, "this is why I remain a strong advocate for consolidating City and School finance operations. I do not, however, believe that the appropriate way to express displeasure related to transparency would be to further reduce the education appropriation."

City Councilor Donald Macrino, chairman of the Finance Committee, said Friday that the council cut the budget as deeply as it could during regular deliberations and it will be hard to find more money to save.

"We weren't kidding when we put the last one together, that there isn't much room in this budget,'' he said. "We can go back, but where do we cut? Do we take away from schools that already are at rock bottom? Or from an already struggling police force? Or pull a couple firetrucks off (the) street? We're not going to do any of those."

He said he'll take a close look at the mayor's new numbers, "But I don't seem to be in great disagreement with the mayor's proposal,'' he said.

Earlier this month, with a turnout of about 10 percent of the registered voters, the three ballot questions on the budget were defeated by margins of at least 250 votes.


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