Shelton Aldermen debate adding $1.2M to school budget

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — The Board of Aldermen said it hopes to add some $1.2 million to the education budget for the coming fiscal year.

Board of Aldermen President John Anglace Jr. said during his board’s first budget workshop earlier this week that the additional money had been requested by the Board of Education to cover contractual obligations.

“What we’ve got to do is find a way to provide (the Board of Education) with $1,179,000,” Anglace said.

Mayor Mark Lauretti “acknowledged in his budget address that the Board of Aldermen must put more money in the Board of Education budget,” Anglace added. “We’re all starting on the same page here.”

The aldermen spent Tuesday reviewing all the accounts listed in Lauretti’s proposed 2021-22 fiscal year budget of $128,225,767, a $43,728 increase from the present year.

If the mayor’s budget is approved as proposed, the mill rate would be lowered to 22.03, a 1.74 reduction. The proposed spending plan projects a 98.85 percent tax collection rate, according to Finance Director Paul Hiller.

The aldermen’s budget public hearing is at 6:30 p.m. May 12. The joint Board of Education-Board of Aldermen budget workshop is May 18, followed by one more workshop May 20 and a final vote on May 27. All meetings are online on the city website and live in the City Hall auditorium.

The Board of Apportionment and Taxation, which had debated the budget but was unable to reach consensus, passed the proposed spending plan to the Board of Aldermen for review on Friday with no changes.

A&T Democrats had attempted to offer recommendations that would have added about $2 million to the education budget to pay for contractual obligations, but both votes ended in 3-3 ties, each along party lines.

Neither proposal would have raised the mill rate from the present fiscal year. The second proposal would have moved the mayor’s budget to the aldermen with the new lower mill rate but reallocate a calculated $1.6-million surplus in the general fund to the Board of Education.

The Board of Education has requested a near $75 million budget, a $2.2 million, or 2.99 percent, increase from the previous year.

Lauretti’s proposed education budget stands at $73 million, a $135,000 increase this fiscal year.

School officials said that their proposal maintains present staff and programs, but without at least $1.1 million more than this year, the district would not be able to cover contractual obligations and could face potential staff cuts.