Town officials share the ‘state of the town’

Plainville superintendent of schools Maureen Brummett shares her vision about education in Plainville, her goals with this year’s budget, and how “we do a lot with what we have.” Last week, the budget was a main topic for town officials during the annual “state of the town” meeting about the town government, the school system, technical services, and planning and zoning. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)

By SHERIDAN ROY

STAFF WRITER

From a financial perspective, it’s all about balance, Town Council chair Kathy Pugliese shared at the “state of the town” meeting last week. Looking at a 10-year span, she said both intergovernmental and other revenues have declined by about $3 million.

To counter that, the town has to manage expenses, Pugliese said. Specifically from intergovernmental revenues, there was about a $1 million decrease from 2009 to 2019.

Budget was a big topic at this year’s meeting. Each year, town officials host the informational event in a joint effort to share with residents an overview of where Plainville stands. Presentations are given from the perspectives of the town, school system, technical services and planning and zoning.

According to the presentation, the town makes money from license and permits, fines and fees, use of money or interest, debt management, and use of the fund balance. It also relies on property taxes which are revealed annually in the grant list. The hope each year is that the grant list value goes up.

Over 10 years, though, the grand list has seen small growth—just 0.3 percent.

“That is very, very small growth,” said Pugliese. “It impacts what we can and can’t do. We need to keep an eye on that, and we are hoping for some growth this year.”

When it comes to the annual total budget, Pugliese said the numbers have gotten small in each year.

“That’s a good sign. We are doing better,” she said. “Plainville is in a good position and we try to stay ahead of it.”

In the previous 10 year period, from 1999 to 2009, the total budget increased almost $17 million. In comparison, from 2009 to 2017, the budget increased just about $7 million. The average yearly increase in the first 10 years was 4.7 percent per year, versus 1.4 percent per year from 2009 to 2017.

She also shared debt service, which is money that the town borrows, has been “falling off the books and decreasing.”

In addition, home values have increased, as well as employment rates. Plainville unemployment rates are now below the state average—2.6 percent in Nov. 2018 compared to the state’s 3 percent.

Maureen Brummett, superintendent of Plainville Community Schools, shared PCS is ranked 129 out of 169 school districts in spending per-pupil. “We do a lot with what we have,” she said.

The school district is the fourth top employer in town, employing 557 people.

“Many of our employees live in Plainville or in surrounding towns,” said Brummett. “It shows people work here, live here and spend here. It’s vibrant to the economy.”

When it comes to finances, school districts typically don’t bring a whole lot of money in, but Plainville does make some money as an “open choice” school, which allows students from outside communities like Hartford to attend PCS. That brings in about $1 million per year.

“We work on promoting our school district within, and as a result, we have fewer children leaving Plainville schools for magnet schools,” Brummett added.

Over the last eight years, the school’s budget has increased 1.07 percent. Last year was difficult as unexpected cuts to funding from the state threw the district for a loop. A sum of $1.9 million were lost from the Education Cost Sharing grant. This year, the town is slated to receive $260,000 from the grant.

Director of technical service John Bossi briefly touched on the town’s complaint-generated blight program, rehabilitation projects at the White Oak parcel, the mandated water pollution control facility upgrade, some upcoming roadwork and a redesign of Townline Road expected to begin next year.

Director of planning Garrett Daigle wrapped up the presentation with a list of sales and purchases to properties in town, including the Manafort Brothers Inc. expansion project, rehabilitation of the Chung property, and Parson’s Buick being purchased by Powerhouse Motorsports, who will move to town from Meriden.

The office in the municipal center maintains a database of commercial properties for sale or lease and copies are available.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.