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Board of Reps Votes to Pass $243M Budget; Extra $1M Cut Prior to Vote

Almost $1 million more dollars was slashed from the Stamford budget by the Fiscal Committee just before the Board of Representatives assembled and voted to pass the $243 million budget.

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QUICK POINTS:

  • $243,095,340 Operating Budget passes Board of Representatives.
  • Fiscal Committee cut extra $985,000 before BoR vote, 2/3's of that coming from Police and Fire.
  • Currently, this means a tax increase of somewhere between 2.76-3.05%.
  • The board also passed the $236,717,158 Board of Education budget.

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At 5:30 p.m., the Fiscal Committee kicked off an evening of debate that would lead up to an 8:00 p.m. Board of Representatives special budget meeting to approve a $243,095,340 operating budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

By the end of the committee meeting, the board had sought to reduce the city's operating budget for 2012-2013 by an additional $985,000, a majority of that coming from cuts to emergency services.

At the 8:00 p.m. meeting, the Board of Representatives assembled to pass the recommended cuts 28-1.

The lone dissenter, Representative Salvatore Gabriel, said he thought the board could have done more to help the citizens and taxpayers of Stamford.

"We shouldn't be raising taxes," Gabriel said. "We could have cut a little more out. I don't think we did enough. We're asking residents to tighten their belts, the economy hasn't improved and we still have a number of Stamford citizens out of work. We can't continue to raise taxes. Most people can't afford these increases. It's a shame collegues didn't show more support."

Director of Policy and Management Peter Privitera, said he thought they'd acheived quite a bit.

"I think the intent of the action tonight was to get a tax increase under three percent," said Privitera. "The city can only sustain a certain number of cuts to the budget. We're cutting from the police department, the fire department, the debt service fund. People deserve to pay low taxes but how much more can you cut before you start impacting city services?"

During the committee meeting, the group made cuts to fire department funding, voting to remove $122,000 for the position of one assistant fire chief and an additional $200,000 from salary and overtime.

The board approved the committee's recommendation to make similar cuts to the police department, slashing $300,000 from salaries.

There was some discussion over whether the funds should be removed from the "Salary" line or the "Overtime" line. The department is looking to fill 10 positions that, if filled, would lead to a reduced need for overtime. 

The board also approved to reduce the general fund's contribution to the debt service by $300,000, lowering the amount it offered to $44,511,000.

A few variables contribute to an uncertain increase.

For one, the 's Mill Rate meeting won't occur until this coming Wednesday,May 16, 2012. Without knowing what will take place at that meeting, everything else is reduced to mostly speculation.

The other variable is 's . Without knowing that fate of the current fire department situation, the board has to prepare for both possibilities.

Currently, if everything else were to stay exactly the same as it is now, and with the cuts the board approved Monday night, taxpayers would see a 2.76% increase in what they were paying.

If the mayor's Fire Plan is enacted, with all other variables remaining the same, taxpayers could see an increase of 3.05%.

On an average home of $400,000, the average taxpayer would see an increase of about $200.

One sizable cut was made not on the recommendation of the Fiscal Committee, but at request via the floor. $690,000 was slashed form the Water Pollution Control Authority.

The organizaton has an opportunity to later present the Board of Representatives with a counter-offer for their budget and does not have to immediately accept the cuts, Board of Representatives President Randall M. Skigen said.

The Board of Finance will hold the Mill Rate meeting on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. in the Board of Finance Conference Room at the .

The board also passed the $236,717,158 Board of Education budget without amendment, which drew applause from the crowd of teachers present.

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