The town council is planning to finalize its 2018-19 budget over the next few weeks. But the 2017-18 spending plan is still on its “to do” list as it works in educational cost sharing funding slowly trickling into the town.
During the budget process last March, the increases for the board of education and town spending plans were zeroed out as the town prepared for a $6 million loss in state education sharing revenue under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed spending plan. By the end of the year, the money had been restored by the state legislature and the council has been adding money to the town and school board’s current budgets as the funding has come in.
In December, $1.2 million of the $2.5 million original budget reduction was restored to the board of education along with $500,000 for the town’s $900,000 reduction. A second installment of $1.4 million in ECS funding was recently received by the town and will go toward reducing the impact of a $1 million motor vehicle grant and $1 million municipal revenue sharing grant the town did not receive.
The council will wait until the expected final installment of $2.86 million comes in April to make the town and school board’s 2018-19 budgets whole again. The town would receive $400,000 and the school board $1.3 million of that funding.
“It comes down to, at this point of the year, what is your comfort level the final ECS money will be received,” Town Manager Richard J. Johnson said. “You never say never, but you ask yourself under what scenario would 50 percent of the town’s ECS funding be eliminated between now and April.”
Councilman Stewart “Chip” Beckett III said he has faith the town will receive the final payment.
“The likelihood of getting zero is really remote,” he said.
“It seems to be low odds the way things are trending now,” Councilman George P. Norman said.
The board of education has not spent its $1.2 million in funding that has been returned and is monitoring its 2017-18 budget closely. The council will hold a budget workshop with the board of education early next month on its 2018-19 spending plan.