The town council made adjustments to the at a Thursday night special meeting, including the allocation of a portion of the town's projected year-end budget surplus.
According to Town Manager Steven Werbner, it is estimated that the town's portion of the budget could have unexpended funds of $255,496. The council decided to make the following purchases with those funds:
- The payment of $100,000 in
- A tire machine to replace town truck and fire truck tires - $10,000
- Phones for the fire department - $10,000
- GPS units for half of the town's trucks (the other half is already outfitted with the units) - $5,000
- A public works supervisor truck (no longer functioning) -$25,000
- Engineering survey costs for the Tolland Village Area to help facilitate development - $20,000
Werbner estimated that $80,000 would be left over after completing those purchases.
The council also decided to purchase a $145,000 front line truck. The purchase will be funded with $60,000 out of a $120,000 property tax relief grant, as well as money from the general fund. By keeping more money in the general fund that does not need to be replaced, Werbner said that the funds from the property tax relief grant will also lower the tax rate increase by that amount. The other $60,000 from the tax relief grant will go towards buying a number of computers for Tolland schools.
The scheduled paving of the TIS parking lot was postponed a year. The $130,000 from that project will be added to road repair funds, increasing the 2012-2013 funds for roads to $680,000.
Werbner also updated the council on the town's process of switching to a self-funded health insurance plan. He said that while initial estimates projected possible nine to eight percent savings, numerous costs incurred by transferring to the new system means that for the first year, health insurance costs would remain stable. However, Werbner said that the town could start seeing savings in the second or third year of the new program.
The council also decided to leave the board of education's budget increase at three percent.
Council member Sam Belsito disagreed with the decision, saying that he believes the school board has additional money that could be found in their budget. Superintendent William Guzman recently estimated that the , while some town council members previously projected a .
"After finding supposedly $300,000 to $800,000 more, I don't think they need the three percent," he said. "I want to know how much more there is. You're glossing over it."
Council member Josh Freeman responded, saying that while all departments should be held accountable for their budgets, the two groups must work together in order to save money for the town. "We have to develop trust, and we will never develop that trust if we call them liars. Let's be partners."
Several council members said that the groups will continue to work together to find more potential savings for the 2013-2014 budget, and mentioned that a pay-to-play task force may be created in order to address the .
While council members agreed that the budget process could be improved for next year, they added that there is little time to make huge changes to the 2012-2013 budget. The council must approve a budget to go to referendum by April 3.
Council member Jan Rubino said that despite a shortage of time, she believes the 1.04 percent increase budget is defendable.
"I think we're doing what's fiscally conservative," she said.
The board is scheduled to finalize the budget on April 3. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at town hall.
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