An over five percent increase in spending was not enough to make residents want to speak up during the first public presentation of next year's over $60 million budget.
Town Manager Barbara Gilbert presented the 2012-2013 proposed annual budget for town of Rocky Hill to the council and public Wednesday night.
The proposed annual budget is $63,293,752, which is $3,203,575, or 5.3 percent, higher than . The proposed tax rate was set at 26.1 mills per $1,000 of assessed property value, an increase of 1.6 mills.
Gilbert stated that budget increase only includes items that have been delayed several years or are being mandated by the state and federal governments.
"This increase only covers those items that are crucial in moving forward," she said.
After Gilbert's 30-minute presentation, not one resident spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting and very few even attended. Mayor Anthony LaRosa said it was the first time since he has been elected that no one has commented during the initial budget presentation.
"I am amazed because I did get phone calls," LaRosa said. The town manager added that she have received many positive emails from the public about the proposed budget.
Gilbert said the proposed budget is "very different from budgets of the last few years" because of and the . Those events made her realize that the town could no longer put off necessary expenditures.
The cost of Storm Alfred, before FEMA reimbursement, was $386,679. However, by having the town staff do all the work in house and "thinking outside-the-box, it resulted in savings for the taxpayers," Gilbert said.
The proposed budget includes contractual salary increases for all town employees. Last year, all town employees agreed not to take raises. The union for the highway and parks department employees is currently negotiating with the town and salary increases are included in the contingency fund, if needed.
The Board of Education of $30,353,935, which represents a 3.54 percent increase from this year's budget on Feb. 9.
The proposed town budget includes the hiring of one full-time tax collector, one full-time uniformed , a part-time police records clerk, one full-time highway supervisor and one full-time employee. The custodians were also moved from the Board of Education to the town’s budget. The budget includes hiring a risk manager for six months.
Besides the Board of Education, the largest portion of money in the budget is insurance ($7,506,330), which includes health insurance for all town employees, workers' compensation and liability insurance for all staff and boards.
Some of the capital improvement projects in proposed 2012-2013 budget include:
- Mandated Property Revaluation for October 2013 Grand List ($91,000)
- On-line Building Permitting System ($55,000)
- Funds toward the replacement of carpet ($50,000)
- Two new police patrol cars and an unmarked Taurus ($116,982)
- Design Services for Goff Brook Bridge ($50,000)
- Two Ford pickup trucks with plows for the Parks Department ($21,000)
- ($28,000) and cleaning/painting ($28,000) for Elm Ridge Pool
- Funding toward a new mini bus for the ($20,000)
- ADA upgrades for restrooms and oil tank replacement for generator at the ($45,000)
- ADA upgrades for restrooms and front ramp entrance ($60,000)
- School building improvements ($279,000)
- Lease payment for portables at ($36,000)
During her presentation, Gilbert showed a slide that stated the taxes for a home valued at $200,000 in Rocky Hill will be $5,220, which is lower than Wethersfield ($6,476) and Newington ($6,354), but higher than Berlin ($5,042).
The public will get another chance to voice their opinion of the budget next week. The council will hold its first public workshop on April 11 at 7 p.m. inside the Council Chambers at . The public can comment at the start of the workshop.
The 2012-13 proposed annual budget for town of Rocky Hill is attached as a PDF.