For 2022-23, Darien’s operating budget, which covers the day-to-day operations of the town of more than 21,000 people, is $159,044,090. This budget is an increase of about 3.2% compared to last year's budget of $152.7 million.
The vast majority of Darien’s budget comes from local taxes. More than $150 million is funded through local taxes, with just under $8.9 million in other revenues, which includes state funding, revenues generated by town operations, such as building permits, and interest.
Let’s take a look at how the budget breaks down by section in this town.
Just about 70% of Darien’s budget, or $110.6 million goes toward the school district.
In general, the education budget covers many areas, including: salaries and benefits for teachers, administrators, and staff; curriculum materials; support services in schools; special programs, such as career pathway programs for high schoolers; and athletic and extracurricular materials.
In Darien, some education highlights include:
- Offering new courses at the high school and middle school levels, including Mandarin and digital journalism
- Providing additional diversity, equity, and inclusion support
- Making upgrades to the district’s technology, including its server and some device replacement
About 7% of Darien’s budget, or $11.1 million goes toward the town’s public safety efforts, which include fire, police, and emergency responders
Generally, the public safety budget covers many areas, including: salaries for police officers, firefighters, administrators, and support staff; equipment, such as body cameras; training programs; emergency communications; and emergency preparedness resources.
In Darien, some public safety highlights include:
- A new full-time IT position in the Darien police department to “handle the department’s increasingly specialized technology needs.”
- Converting a part-time fire inspector to a full-time position in the fire marshal’s office
- Working towards making the communications center fully staffed by civilians to remove sworn officers from dispatching duties.
Just under 4% of Darien’s budget, or $6.3 million supports the public works budget for the town. Public works covers many areas including parks and recreation, engineering, operations, road maintenance, and more.
The budget for public works generally includes funding for efforts in those departments, such as: road and sidewalk maintenance; engineering and design work; resources to maintain parks and recreation facilities, as well as infrastructure support; salaries for public works administration and staff; wastewater and stormwater management; and support for trash and recycling.
In Darien, some public works highlights include:
- Completing the construction of the Noroton and West intersection project
- Updating the townwide storm/sanitary sewer data
- Working with residents to find opportunities to mitigate against future storms with elevation or acquisition grants.
Community and Human Services
About 3.6% of Darien’s budget, or $5.7 million goes toward community and human services in the town. Everything from health departments to libraries, mental health services to youth and senior needs falls into community and human services. This category also includes funding that cities give to local nonprofits and agencies to provide some of these services.
In Darien, some of the highlights for community and human services include:
- Providing programs to promote the physical, emotional and economic well-being of Darien’s residents.
- Working to develop community resiliency to address the climate change and hazards associated with increased flooding risk and new disease vectors such as disease spreading mosquitoes and ticks which are being found further north than in the past
Economic and Community Development
Just under 1% of Darien’s budget, or $1.5 million is for economic and community development-related efforts, which include planning, zoning, and land use departments.
Generally, this budget includes the work of those departments, such as: application reviews; city-wide plans; zoning and building code enforcement; updates to the zoning regulations; business support; art and history commissions; tourism activities; and salaries for economic and community development staff.
In Darien, some of the economic and community development highlights include:
- Reviewing changes from state statute related to marijuana, accessory dwelling units, and more
- Continuing to work with and monitor the ongoing redevelopment projects in town
About 2.36% of Darien’s budget, or just under $3.8 million supports general government needs in the town, which includes the office of the first selectperson, finance, town clerk, IT, human resources, legal, customer service, and support staff for elected officials, such as the RTM.
The general government budget includes the work and people in those departments, such as salaries for employees in those areas; customer support initiatives and programs, such as “click and report” applications; communications to the public; records keeping; licenses, such as marriage and dog licenses; IT support; tax collection; budgets; and agendas and meeting materials.
In Darien, some of the general government highlights include:
- Upgrading the financial system and “network backbone” in Darien to improve operations
- Facilitating the projects that are taking place under the American Rescue Plan Act
- Negotiating town contracts including with the police association
Employee Benefits and Pensions
About 4.2% of Darien’s budget, or $6.6 million goes toward employee benefits and pensions.
About 6.5% of Darien’s budget, or just under $10.4 million, goes toward debt service. (Note: This debt service does not cover recent projects in Darien such as Great Island, because that is not yet in this year’s capital budget. That purchase and others will be included in future debt service numbers.)
About 1.9% or $3 million goes toward other costs in the town.
If you’d like more information, view the full town budget.
How we did this: We reviewed each community’s published budget and found the budgeted expenses by department and put them into the categories listed above. Please note: Not every municipality categorizes its budgets the same way. For example, some organize Parks and Recreation funds under Public Works, while others separate it. For consistency, we tried to move and place the similar departments into the same buckets.