The Avon Town Council is considering 3 percent increase to the town budget for the next fiscal year, amounting to $28.3 million.
"Brandon will work up the budget and finalize it to around this number, I think it will be slightly less," Town Council Chairman Mark Zacchio said.
The council deliberated the town manager’s preliminary $28,586,904 recommendation at it budget workshop Saturday in . The council will formally act on the 2012-13 town budget request in March and make a recommendation to the Board of Finance, Zacchio said.
The town side of the budget, as it stood after the budget workshop, includes the town’s operating budget ($20,120,878), sewer fund ($1,752,526), capital improvement program ($1,892,783) and debt services ($4,546,338). As per the council’s request, town staff will adjust accordingly.
"Where we concentrated today was in our operating budget, which started out at 3.55 percent and landed at 2.91 percent," Zacchio said.
The council supported adjusting the town manager’s recommended $20,245,896 operating budget to reflect a 2.91 percent increase over the current fiscal year.
That affected debt services, interest and principal the town has to pay, bringing it down from Robertson’s $4.7 million estimation to $4.5 million.
"Debt service is just, think of it as the mortgage and interest you pay on a house loan. And you buy a bunch of houses. Anything that the town borrows for long term that they go out to bond on, it becomes part of the debt service," Zacchio said. "So, it's what you budget to pay principal and interest on your past mortgages obligations. We bought property. We built schools. We did roofing projects."
The adjusted proposal discussed Saturday does not include staff cuts, Zacchio said, but adds a full-time teen librarian to staff for a cost of about $48,000.
"There's been a need there for five years, we just haven't been able to fund it," Zacchio said.
The council voted to raise Robertson’s annual salary by 2.5 percent, which would bring it to $133,841, Zacchio said, to increase his paid vacation days by one week to four weeks total and to raise his auto stipend by $1,000 to a $6,000.
“We’re very pleased with what you’re doing," Councilman Douglas Evans said.
Robertson's recommended capital improvement program request did not change much, beyond a $100,000 buffer for reserve money. The largest town projects listed were $302,797 in road repairs, $250,000 to replace a fire engine, $190,000 for replacing four Highway Division vehicles and $120,000 to replace two Buildings and Grounds dump trucks with plows.
A Cider Brook Road and Avonside sewer project listed under capital improvement for next year may cost around $275,000, but Bartha said that would be funded entirely by special revenue at no added cost to the town.
The town already budgets gross, but this is the ’s first year doing so instead of presenting a net budget, Assistant Town Manager Steve Bartha said. The school board set a budget early this year, requesting .
For that reason, Bartha said there might appear to be a “blip” in anticipated school spending increases as school revenue sources are factored in alongside projected expenditures. Instead of an apparent 7.9 percent school spending increase, the actual increase would be about 2.91 percent if approved, he said.
The school board’s largest capital request includes $300,000 for new interactive smart boards and LCD projectors.
The school board request typically doesn't come in until after the budget workshop.
"It helped to know where they were," Zacchio said. "It's in the back of your mind, but I think we focused on the council needs in terms of what we think the operating here is. It's always good to know ahead of time with their new budgeting system."
If the council votes to recommend the adjusted town budget, as is, that means the Board of Finance would then review a $79.4 million combined budget.
"I think we've had a productive day," Zacchio said after the meeting. It's good for the council to look at the entire operating budget and weigh in on what we think is important, as always. We consider social services and public safety the most important aspect of what we're doing."
The date of the next council meeting will most likely be moved to the second week in March, Zacchio said.
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