New London City Council to consider reduced budget to satisfy petition

New London — The City Council next month will consider a scaled-down city government budget as part of an effort to satisfy a citizens' petition and avoid a referendum vote in the fall.

Mayor Michael Passero presented a recommendation on Monday that would slash $424,150 from the previously approved $49.86 million general government budget.

The police and public works departments would suffer the brunt of the cuts under the proposal, though a variety of departments would see reductions.

The police budget would be cut $216,000 under the plan, including $75,000 for vehicle replacements, $20,000 for maintenance and repairs along with thousands of dollars more for items such as supplies, postage and training.

Public works would lose a total of $203,000, including $53,000 from building maintenance and more than $100,000 in supplies.

Finance Director Don Gray said that after the budget petition was certified he asked department heads for suggestions on reductions that did not impact salaries or fringe benefits. The city had already eliminated at least five positions under the approved budget.

“We didn’t want to lose any bodies,” Gray said.

Gray said the building maintenance money cut from Public Works could be offset by state aid such as state Local Capital Improvement Program funds. Additionally, Gray said a new certified mechanic in public works would help to reduce maintenance and repair costs across several departments.

Other proposed cuts include $30,000 from the fire department, $24,500 from the Office of Development and Planning, $15,000 from personnel, $19,500 from the mayor’s office, $10,000 from the finance department and $7,300 from the city clerk’s office.

The cuts totaled more than $500,000 but an inadvertent deletion of a $90,000 appropriation in public safety software in the approved budget led to restoration of those funds in the new budget proposal, Gray said.

The cuts alone would drop the tax rate by .35 mills. But Passero said the city had to adjust for a $272,250 decrease in state education aid and therefore will wind up with a .12 mill reduction. The mill rate would drop from 43.74 mills to 43.62 mills.

Tax bills sent out this year, because of the budget petition, were based on the last fiscal year’s budget and a 43.17 mill rate. Residents should expect supplemental tax bills once another budget is passed.

The City Council’s Finance Committee on Monday unanimously voted to send that proposal to the full council for a possible vote at its next meeting in August.

 g.smith@theday.com

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