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Vavrek Reduces Budget by $120K for Second Vote

First Selectman reduces budget to 2.58 percent spending increase, 2.2 percent mill rate increase.

Sign outside Stepney Volunteer Fire Department on Route 25. Photo Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre
Sign outside Stepney Volunteer Fire Department on Route 25. Photo Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre
After a surprisingly low turnout in the first budget referendum on April 1, First Selectman Steve Vavrek released the second 2014-15 budget proposal on Wednesday with a reduction of $120,137.

The new proposal — scheduled for referendum on April 22 — reduced the municipal budget by $45,137 and the education request by $75,000.

“Many have told me it was a great budget, put it back out and get more people to vote. Others have told me, ‘Make them pay for not voting’ cut services and hours of the library, parks, pool and the Senior Center. Some have told me cut education. Some have told me cut roads, public safety and building maintenance,” Vavrek said in a release Wednesday. “As much as I feel that the budget as presented on April 1 is the best budget to keep us current with the plethora of unfunded State and Federal mandates, more people voted no than voted yes and adjustments must be made.”

The municipal cuts deferred equipment purchases for emergency services that were not immediately necessary. The $75,000 cut to education was decided after consultation with Superintendent Jim Agostine, Vavrek said.

The $82 million budget is a 2.58 percent increase in spending over last year — down from 2.73 percent in the first proposal — and a 2.2 percent increase to the mill rate — down from 2.39 percent.

Download a copy of the new budget proposal and Vavrek’s letter above.
Indymind April 15, 2014 at 08:44 AM
John Holmes regarding your economic comments. Yes costs are rising, for the town organization and for every individual. You are adamant that means we need to pay more to the town organization. No so. When we face such realities we need to re-prioritize our expenditures ...... There is no one we can dump the increase on..... We are the end of the line. If the town takes more we have to give up something else. The town needs to work the same way we do. Generally speaking the larger the budget the more flexibility to do that without really affecting those things we need. The town town budget if I can call,it that has some limited flexibility, but it is there. the education budget is huge and there are many opportunities to live within the budget without our kids education being affected. There are many very hard working and genuine folks trying to run our town and it becomes very difficult to move forward without individuals feeling slighted. I applaud our town staff and committee members and our educators, but the track we are on is just plain wrong. Send the message of change on April 22nd . Vote No.
John Holmes April 15, 2014 at 09:21 AM
Indymind - Education is a people driven business. I believe 90% of the education budget is in salaries. The next highest expense would be in special education costs. What would you like to see cut? Cutting teachers would mean larger class sizes and with an intense curriculum like the Common Core that would not fare so well. You say there are many opportunities to cut, where are they?
Indymind April 15, 2014 at 10:02 AM
John Holmes. Sorry not going to play the " hold the parents to ransom game" with contentious item by item threats. it's just the next part of the old worn out track we've been on. On a big piece of paper start with the budget number. Prioritize every expenditure, when you come to road blocks, like the well used "well that's contractual" ( thank you by the way for not bringing that up so far, I'm grateful ) that's where some difficult decisions and creative input is required ( believe me I'm not underestimating how difficult and uncomfortable that is ). The guideline must be kids education must not suffer. Anything directly non teaching would be a suggested place to start. Then nice to have vs essential. There are others already more qualified to make the right decisions than I, they just need to be given the incentive of no more money available to guide their progress. Then I am confident they will find the solutions. I really need to look more closely at the BofE data Steve directed me too. I'll try with my limited knowledge to suggest some places, but really my input is about setting up parameters, educators should have greater input on the specifics.
Jebidiah Stone April 15, 2014 at 10:11 AM
This education budget was approved by both parties on both the board of education and the even more conservative Board of Finance. This Superintendent has identified so much over spending and unneeded policies, he has earned the trust of many patents and boards. Again much higher budgets produced little other than excess buying to close out years. This BoE has it's game together and should be trusted in keeping the costs way down over the past 5 years. Again check the truth
Backward thinker April 15, 2014 at 01:55 PM
2 line items to look at: 752800 increase of $338,193 Benefit increase 751110 increase of $874,196 Secondary Instructional Leader Total increase of $1,212,389 Are these absolutely required??

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