The town council got an update Tuesday on the 2013-2014 budget cycle from Town Manager Steven Werbner, who said a "reasonable tax increase" would be necessary if town expenditures go up.
According to the budget memo provided by Werbner and Finance Director Lisa Hancock, Tolland could see next to no revenue increase this year.
"Tolland is no longer one of the fastest growing communities," Werbner said. He explained that the town's grand list growth has declined steadily in the last few years.
While the grand list is not yet finalized, Werbner said that it is estimated that it will go up only .27 percent this year, which amounts to around $105,000 in extra revenue for the Tolland budget.
In addition, Werbner said that he has heard that state aid to towns is on the table as the state budget is hammered out in Hartford. Tolland could lose its property tax relief grant, manufacturers equipment tax exemption and potentially, more than $1 million in aid to Tolland schools, Werbner said.
And with revenue potentially declining, Superintendent William Guzman has recommended a school district budget that calls for a 4.95 percent increase, equal to an increase of $1,768,071 compared to this year's budget.
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In his superintendent's message,
The school district's budget made up nearly 70 percent of the town's 2012-2013 budget.
Council member Sam Belsito challenged the council to figure out how to fund a zero percent tax increase budget without cutting programs.
"We have to find ways to save money and do things differently," Belsito said. "There's no way a lot of people in this town can afford a tax increase."
Other council members shared Belsito's enthusiasm for implementing efficiencies in the town's operations to save money and to keep expenditures at a minimum, although council members Josh Freeman and Vice-chairperson Rick Field said they think it is unlikely that a zero percent budget could be created without also affecting or cutting services.
Werbner suggested that the council meet with the Planning & Zoning Commission to discuss zoning regulations that could encourage "reasonable development in the community."
Werbner asked the council to start sending him their cost-saving ideas.
"We at the town side stand ready to look at any suggestions anybody has to make us more efficient," he said.
The Tolland 2013-2014 budget schedule is posted on Tolland Patch. The school board's next budget workshop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers.
More Council News
The council also approved the appropriation of nearly $The proposed security improvements are still being studied and drafted. The school board will submit a security plan to the council before the funds are used.
The council also approved a resolution allowing the town to enter into an agreement with Firematic Supply Company, Inc. of Rocky Hill to refurbish a Tolland fire truck.
The truck, purchased in 1993, needs repair and maintenance for the pump mechanism, radiator, brakes, transmission and lighting, according to Assistant Public Safety Director Doug Racicot. In addition to the necessary mechanical work, new lighting is needed to bring the truck up to NFPA standards and to also improve first responder safety on highway accident scenes by reducing the number of flashing lights and increasing reflective material.
"We're seeing that on the highway, not having as many flashing lights out makes our lives safer," Racicot said.
A total of $86,615 is already approved for this project in the 2011-2012 capital budget, according to the agenda.
The council meets next on Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m.