Budget 2012
Looking at the Facts

We, your Republican representatives, know there are many competing pieces of information to deal with during budget time.  As it stands today, the entire budget is a 1.07% increase over last year – almost evenly split between the municipal budget (0.43% increase) and the school budget (0.57% increase).  We’ve put together the following document to provide you with additional facts to allow you to make an informed decision before heading to the polls on Tuesday, June 5th

What we’re hearing...

The council is not listening. 

Vote no it’s too low. Send an email to the council to say why you voted no and money will be added back to the education budget.

The facts...

As elected representatives, we are obligated to consider the entire constituency.  The large difference in the first referendum resulted in a corresponding large adjustment.  The 2nd referendum failed by 77 votes.  During that time, the council received about 170 emails detailing how people voted.  Of that 170, 50% wanted to add money back, 30% wanted no further reductions, and 20% wanted further reductions.   If you combine those who wanted to add money back with those who did not want any further reductions, this totals 136.  Assuming all the people that emailed the council actually voted and you compare that to the 1st referendum which had 2569 “No” votes, that would indicate 94.7% of the original “No” voters wanted a reduction and did not want to add money back. That overwhelming majority cannot be ignored.  Our actions are in line with the overwhelming majority.                 We are listening.  

Additional facts...

The council is made up of 12 elected representatives whose budgeting process is dictated by the town charter.  In order for the council to add money back to the budget, the charter requires a supermajority of 8 council members to vote “yes” to add money back.  On May 16th, the Legislative Council voted 11 to 1 against adding funds to the education budget (see motion:  http://www.newtown-ct.gov/Public_Documents/NewtownCT_LegCouncilMin/I037866E0.1/LC 5-16-12 Mins.pdf


What we’re hearing...

$12mm has been cut from the education budget in the last ten years. 

The education budget is being unfairly targeted for reduction.

The facts...

The education budget has never been decreased year over year, and in fact has increased about 8% in the last five years. During the same time period, the municipal budget has increased 1%.  The increase, or investment in our school budget, over the last thirteen years has been a total of $36mm.  To clarify, a total of $48mm has been requested over the last 13 years.  The $12mm in reductions was a reduction to the original request.  If that had not occurred, we would have increased the budget by $48mm.   The data below shows the historical budget history since 1998-99.  Additionally, this year over year increase in spending does not include any of the capital investments made which include the Hawley School expansion, the High School expansion, renovating the Middle School auditorium, reroofing the Middle School, and the current Hawley HVAC project.  Fortunately, due diligence has netted savings while still allowing a significant investment for our children. 

Additional facts...

The budget development process begins roughly in the October/November timeframe. The chart below highlights the change in this year’s requested budget from beginning to end - starting from the original department requests and ending with the current budget request. 

 

 


What we’re hearing...

The municipal budget will end the year with a $700,000 surplus in the operating account. We should use some of that money to increase education spending. 

The facts...

The municipal operating budget is nearly spent as we approach the end of the year – there is no reported surplus at this time.   Remember the debt service expense and town operating expenses are two different budgets. 


This year we were able to refund (refinance) existing town debt and were granted a very favorable rate. (Think refinancing your mortgage to lower your interest rate). That action netted savings to Newtown of approximately $1.6mm in current and future interest payments that will no longer need to be paid as originally estimated. This has resulted in approximately $700,000 in this year’s budget in interest payments that will be now distributed to the fund balance.  For the 2012-13 budget, there will be $800,000 less spent on interest payments, which was already taken into account in the budget development process as well as $375,000 less spent on interest payments in    2013-14.   This is a result of our prudent financial policies, but doesn’t necessarily give us cash to spend.      Saving this money rather than spending it benefits all taxpayers.


What we’re hearing...

The Council has no intention of giving voters the opportunity to vote on a bifurcated budget or answers advisory questions...

The facts...

Our Town Charter, found on the town website: http://www.newtown-ct.gov/Public_Documents/NewtownCT_Charter/toc, dictates the budget referendum process.  In order to bifurcate the budget vote or add advisory questions, the charter needs to be changed and approved by the voters.  Last year, a Charter Revision Commission was commissioned to address both of these issues. Their recommendation, which was accepted by the last Legislative Council, was to add advisory questions to the ballot, but not bifurcate the budget. Unfortunately, when the town voted to approve that change, too few voters turned out to allow it to pass.  On May 16th, the Legislative Council began another round of discussion surrounding Charter revision to re-address these very same issues. 


The purpose of this letter is to highlight important budget facts.  All numbers have been confirmed through meeting minutes and in consultation with the Town.  We respect every individual's right to vote and to determine whether that vote is a 'yes' or a 'no'.   Please join us in supporting this budget on Tuesday, June 5th.