By a majority vote, the Town Council has agreed to cut the proposed by approximately $660,000 at its meeting Monday night.
The three Republicans on the council (Frank Szeps, Catherine Vargas and Nadine Bell) voted against the final motion.
Town Manager Barbara Gilbert presented the council with an "adjusted budget" of $62,633,027, which is a less than 5 percent increase from . The proposed tax rate was set at 25.8 mills per $1,000 of assessed property value, an increase of 1.3 mills. The original budget included a mill increase of 1.6 mills.
On the town side, there is a cut of $410,725 and $250,000 from the Board of Education for a total reduction of $660,725. The complete list of additions and deletions made by Gilbert is included as a PDF. Gilbert originally presented a budget of $63,293,752, which was $3,203,575, or 5.3 percent, higher than this year's budget.
The council is expected to adopt the budget at its next meeting on May 21 at 7 p.m. at
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Several Board of Education members, parents and even children stepped up to the microphone during public comment to show their support for Rocky Hill Public Schools and to ask the council to restore the $300,000 removed from budget.
"Throw away the numbers and focus on the childs’ faces," said board Chairwoman Raffaella Coler. "Please restore the cuts."
Republican board member Brian Dillon agreed with Coler's statement.
"We need to change the course and direction. We need to maintain our school buildings," he said. "And not just close our eyes and hope a bandage will solve all our problems."
Former board member Charlie Wisnioski asked the council to do "better" for the children of Rocky Hill and one parent said she was "frustrated" with its recent decisions.
"After everything I learned, please give the Board of Ed what they are asking for," said Alicia Castanho of Murphy Drive. "That is the last budget that you should be cutting. And I know a lot of people feel the same way."
Mayor Anthony LaRosa said in an interview with Patch Tuesday morning that he feels the Board of Education should be able to absorb the cut to its budget.
"If she (Coler) can't find $140,000 to cut in a $30 million budget, she shouldn't be chairman of the board," he said. LaRosa added that the board has had a surplus each of the past four years.
"If they cut those positions, they are playing politics," he said about . LaRosa added that the council is only cutting $140,000 from the . The board added $161,437 to the original budget proposal.
The Republicans on the council attempted to put $80,000 back into the Board of Education budget. But the motion was defeated 5 to 4 with Larry deBear being the only Democrat voting in favor of it.
Vargas said the town needs to look at a "priority list" and called the schools a "hot topic" in town.
"I strongly feel we need to take care of our buildings," she said. "I do not think we need to start another new project without putting the money into fixing what we have."
The minority party also tried to cut $150,000 from the budget by eliminating the full-time recycling coordinator position at the and the funding for phase two of the streetscape project.
"I think until we stop getting new stuff and fix the stuff that we have. We are never going to get out of this," Bell said.
Gilbert previously reduced the Board of Education budget by $50,000 and added that amount to the capital improvement budget to help renovate the elementary schools. On Monday night, the "adjusted budget" had an additional $30,000 added to it for a total of $304,000. A portion of the money, about $60,000, will be used to replace the boiler at .
Later in the evening, the council added an additional $15,000 to the capital improvement budget for school improvements. The money was originally budgeted for the council to get tablets to help reduce the .
The original 2012-13 proposed annual budget for town of Rocky Hill is attached as a PDF.