Public can speak out on proposed Shelton budget at hearing

The Board of Aldermen’s public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2014-15 budget will take place tonight, Wednesday, May 14, at 7 p.m. in the Shelton City Hall auditorium.

The hearing is an opportunity for people to speak out on the next fiscal year’s budget, which should be voted on by the aldermen on May 22. Final passage of the budget also will involve setting the tax rate that will take effect on July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

The Board of Education (BOE) passed its recommended budget in January, Mayor Mark Lauretti released his proposed budget in late April, and the Board of Taxation and Apportionment (A&T) made some adjustments when approving its version in late April.

Likely to be no tax increase

It now will be up to the aldermen to finalize the budget, with their actions subject to possible vetoes by Lauretti.

Both Lauretti and A&T have proposed no tax increase, with A&T adding more money to the BOE budget by tapping into accumulated surplus funds.

Education: Full-day K, pay-to-play, propane

Most attention this year has focused on the BOE’s desire to begin full-day kindergarten in the next school year, as well as its offer to eliminate pay-to-play fees if it receives certain funding from the city.

Other BOE-related issues include how to pay for higher than expected propane costs for school buses and energy costs for buildings, the rising cost of special education, and how to allocate anticipated savings from at least 17 teacher retirements.

At the last Board of Aldermen meeting, BOE Chairman Mark Holden said there was “a standing offer” for him to meet with aldermen to further explain the BOE’s budget situation and request.

“We do have questions,” aldermanic President John F. Anglace Jr. told Holden.

In a recent letter, School Supt. Freeman Burr said the A&T-passed budget still seems to leave the BOE at least $100,000 short of its reduced, alternative plan, which could lead to larger full-day kindergarten class sizes or reducing pay-to-play fees by only a partial amount.