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Stonington first selectwoman presents proposed 2021-22 budget

Stonington — First Selectwoman Danielle Chesebrough presented her proposed 2021-22 general government budget and its 3.2% increase Tuesday night to the Board of Finance.

The $32.7 million budget shows a $1 million increase. 

The town and school system also have submitted $8 million in capital improvement requests to the finance board, which last year approved $2.4 million in capital spending. Some of the large capital requests include $500,000 for police officer body and cruiser cameras, $900,000 for road paving, $2.5 million for middle school and high school air conditioning upgrades, more than $600,000 in school computers, $943,000 for new sidewalks and $441,000 to rebuild the George Crouse tennis courts at the high school.

The finance board is expected to make significant cuts to the capital budget.

The proposed budget also shows the town's annual debt payments, primarily for expansion and renovation projects in the schools and sewer treatment upgrades, continue to grow to $8.1 million in 2021-22, an increase of $51,393. The debt service is part of Chesebrough's $32.7 million budget. Those debt payments are scheduled to begin to decline in 2022-23 if the town does not add any new debt. There have been discussions, though, of bonding several expensive school repairs and upgrades.    

The proposed budget calls for an additional $15,000 contribution to the Stonington Free Library, boosting its annual allocation from the town to $227,000. The Human Services budget calls for an additional $40,040 to hire a community outreach specialist. The proposal calls for the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center to receive a $6,000 increase to boost its assistance from the town to $206,000 while the Stoningon Community Center would receive an additional $5,000, bringing its allocation to $87,500. The Stonington Ambulance would get an additional $30,000 to increase its allocation to $70,000.

The Board of Education continues to work on the proposed budget it will send to the finance board for consideration. Superintendent of Schools Van Riley originally presented a budget with an 8.9% increase, which the board and Riley cut to 4.8%. Two weeks ago, the board deadlocked on a vote to approve the budget after some members expressed concern about the increase. The finance board has told the school board to limit its increase to 1.5%.  

Tuesday's meeting was for the Board of Finance to listen to the proposal. The board will begin its review and make reductions in the coming weeks.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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