Town seeks budget approval at April 30 voter referendum

TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

The Plainville Town Council met on Monday, April 8, and Town Manager Robert Lee gave a summary of the proposed 2019-20 budgetary changes hammered out during the council’s March workshops. That budget will now be reviewed by Plainville residents.

There will be a referendum vote held on Tuesday, April 30, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., where residents are encouraged to vote on whether or not to approve the recommended budget.

The proposed budget is currently set at $61,880,822, an increase of 3.04 percent over the current budget. If adopted as presented, the estimated mill rate would increase 0.88 mills, to bring Plainville’s rate to 34.72. This is a 2.61 percent increase over the current mill rate (33.84).

The council’s budget recommendation is separated into four categories: general town government ($18,017,484), board of education ($38,329,105), debt service ($4,734,233), and capital projects ($800,000).

In the final proposal before voters, capital projects was the only one that didn’t see an increase from this year’s budget. General government (2.76 percent increase) and BOE (2.7 percent) saw moderate increases, while debt service (7.6 percent) saw the largest increase.

The budget recommendation comes after months of effort. The BOE made their initial proposal on Feb. 11. On March 7, Lee proposed his overall budget, and that began a series of council workshops.

Debt service wasn’t trimmed during the workshop process, but loan repayment is a set amount.

General government was the only category that was increased ($13,469) during the council’s workshops, but the town manager explained the increase.

“I’m told that’s slightly misleading as the town council decided to put the teachers’ retirement contribution as proposed by the governor onto the general government side,” said Lee.

According to the town manager, the general government budget was actually reduced somewhere in the area of $90,000. Then, the council shifted $107,640 from the BOE budget to account for the teachers’ retirement contribution as proposed by the governor.

“All that’s because of what was proposed with the teachers’ retirement board monies,” said Lee.

It also explains much of the BOE decrease ($221,174) during the council workshops. With the teachers’ retirement benefits shifting to the general government, BOE saw an actual decrease of about $114,000 from the BOE’s February proposal.

The biggest reduction came with capital improvements. Lee had proposed a $149,577 increase to this year’s $800,000 budget. After the workshops, the council slashed the full amount of that increased spending.

Before the council workshops, the budget recommendations would have resulted in a mill rate increase of 1.23 mills (3.65 percent increase). After the council’s deliberations, they mill rate increase is projected to be 0.88 mills (2.61 percent).

“If not for the debt increase of $334,000, the overall increase would be 2.48 percent, and the reason why I bring that up is because the council, with their debt management plan, is utilizing debt management funds of $334,000 this year to offset the debt increase,” said Lee. “I think that’s significant to point out – the plan is to keep the debt service line item at a $4.4 million steady line item. It’s been like that for several years and the plan likes to keep that steady level going forward.”

Now, it’s up to voters to weigh in. Last year’s budget was approved by 71 percent of voters, but only five percent of registered voters cast their ballot. This year’s vote will be held on Tuesday, April 30, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To view to total proposed budget before the vote, please visit the Town website, www.plainvillect.com, and it is the first item listed under “spotlight,” or, you can visit www.plainvillect.com/finance-department/pages/town-budget.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.