Aldermen vote tonight on new city budget; Education amount is focus

The Board of Aldermen will vote on the city budget tonight, with the Board of Education (BOE) allocation being the focus of most public attention.

The aldermanic meeting will begin Thursday at 7 p.m. in the City Hall auditorium. It is a special meeting, and the only two action items on the agenda are the 2015-16 budget vote and Shelton High School fire code compliance issues.

While a turnout of people supporting a higher education budget is possible, the meeting agenda doesn’t include a public speaking session. Special meetings must follow the posted agenda and cannot add items or activities not included on the agenda.

‘Not looking rosy’

BOE member Arlene Liscinsky expressed concern for what the aldermen might do with the education budget. “It’s certainly not looking rosy,” Liscinsky said at a BOE meeting on Wednesday night.

“Our students [and teachers] do not deserve to be under-funded,” BOE member Faith Hack added.

School Supt. Freeman Burr, who announced at the BOE meeting that he would resign from his position in late December due to ongoing budget issues, was not optimistic.

“There has not been any progress,” Burr said of recent meetings with Mayor Mark Lauretti about the BOE budget request.

Liscinsky, who heads the BOE’s Finance Committee, said the school board would be forced to take some difficult actions if the aldermen don’t increase education funding from what Lauretti has recommended.

“We’ll have to make extremely difficult decisions going forward,” she said.

BOE officials have said this could include teacher and other staff layoffs and the return of pay-to-participate for sports and certain extracurricular activities.

The numbers

The BOE has requested a $4.2 million increase (or 5%) for the next fiscal year, but Mayor Mark Lauretti has recommended a $1.5 million increase (or 2.2%).

Lauretti’s overall recommended budget is for $120.7 million, including $69.3 million for the schools, and would keep the tax rate unchanged. Overall city spending, including the BOE, would go up by 1.7%, under Lauretti’s proposal.

Once the Board of Aldermen approves a budget and sets the new mill rate, Lauretti has the authority to veto all or parts of that budget.

Republicans control the Board of Aldermen by a 7-1 majority. Lauretti also is a Republican.

BOE members Liscinsky and Hack are Democrats.

Finn irritated Republicans keeping him out of the loop on possible new tax rate; click below: