Vote "YES" for Newtown 
On April 24th, the proposed 2012-13 budget was resoundingly rejected by a margin of 607 votes.  It was the largest defeat since 2003.  The very next evening the Legislative Council met to put forth a new budget amount.  The council heard the directive by the taxpayers loud and clear: “Reduce the Budget”.  The council acted decisively and removed one million dollars from the education budget.  The budget now stands as follows:

 

Amount

% Increase Since Last Year

Education

$68,355,794

0.57%

Municipal

$27,980,940

0.43%

Debt Service

$10,069,789

3.57%

Total Operational Budget

$106,406,523

1.24%

Fund Balance Addition

$400,000

 

Total Town Budget Request

$106,806,523

1.28%


The resulting mil rate is 24.68 – an increase of 1.28% since last year and a reduction of the first budget proposal of 1.06%.  For the average tax bill of $8000, this will result in an increase of $103.

Subsequently, on May 7th, Newtown Bee Editor Curtiss Clark hosted elected officials from the Board of Education, Board of Finance, and the Legislative Council along with First Selectwoman Pat Llodra to provide a forum by which questions regarding the budget could be answered.  To view the forum, select “2012-05-07 Budget Forum” from the following Town web page:

http://www.newtown-ct.gov/Public_Documents/NewtownCT_WebDocs/videoarchivent

Your elected leaders promised to continue to revisit and strengthen the Town’s fiscal policies.  It is because of these policies that the Town has received a “AA+” bond rating.  What does this mean to the average taxpayer?  It means that the Town can refinance current debt with lower rates.  It means paying less in interest rates over the next 15 to 20 years.  It means we will not be saddling our children with massive debt payments when they become adults and live in Newtown.

Did you know adding $400,000 to the fund balance benefits all Newtown residents?

The Board of Finance developed a policy for the Town’s fund balance – in basic terms our savings account.  Not only did both the Board of Selectman and the Legislative Council embrace this policy, but also, it was embraced by the rating agencies.  The Town made a commitment to increase our savings account to the levels of similarly rated towns, and you can bet that the rating agencies are watching.

Adding $400,000 to our savings account will bring our account balance to about 8% which is the minimum required by our fund balance policy.  Looking into the medium term, the fund balance should be 10%.  In order to maintain our stellar bond rating, it is important to continue our commitment.  If we are successful, all of us benefit with lower interest rates.  Ultimately, that provides the Town with a greater flexibility in their use of tax dollars.

Did you know the Board of Education modified their financial policy to provide more transparency and accountability?

The Board of Education changed a very significant financial policy in order to provide more oversight.  The change includes language that requires a vote by the Board of Education in order to add staff that was not in the original budget.  Also in the policy, the school administration cannot transfer more than $10,000 without the prior approval of the Board of Education.  Now, the Board of Education will be part of the decision making process and there will be the ability for the Board of Education to have a public discussion about spending and staff changes.

Did you know municipal staffing has been reduced by 5% over the last 3 years?

Your elected leaders understand that the Town must reinvent itself in how it does business.  Staff is being cross-trained and reallocated based on need.  Reductions include a zoning/conservation official, a building department official, 2 tax assessor/tax collector clerks, a police officer, a records clerk, a highway department tool manager, and summer help in the Town Clerk’s office.  Additionally, there has been a reorganization and consolidation of work within the Park & Recreation and the Public Works department.

Did you know a recently completed study by the Town and school has promoted combination of some town and school departments?

Blum-Shapiro presented a report to the Legislative Council endorsing the consolidation of municipal and school payroll processes, the Human Resources departments, the IT departments, and the Finance departments.  This consolidation will not only save Newtown tax dollars, but will provide greater transparency.

What do Republicans Think?

We hear you!  “Reduce spending and review your current processes.”  As said by First Selectwoman Pat Llodra, “I fully understand and personally experience the difficulty of ever-increasing taxes.  I know how challenging it is to meet the financial demands of living in a community like Newtown – I am making that personal choice because I believe in this Town.  My commitment as your first selectman is to be ever-vigilant regarding resources and to work as hard as possible to grow our grand list in such a way as to mitigate the impact of tax increases.  We are making progress on that front and the future looks a bit brighter.   I am committed also to support, protect, and preserve those core values that make our community special.  Those values make a positive difference in our quality of life.  Please support Newtown as we work through the challenges ahead.  Vote ‘yes’ for this budget proposal.”

Budget Referendum

Tuesday, May 15th

Newtown Middle School

6am to 8pm