First Selectwoman Monica McNally and Superintendent Alan Addley, along with Board of Education Chair David Dineen, presented their proposed budgets for the town to the Board of Finance on March 1.
On the town side, McNally proposed a $32.5 million budget, a 3.9% increase from the previous year, while on the school side, the Board of Education proposed a $110.6 million budget, a 3.74% increase from the previous year.
McNally, along with town administrator Kathleen Clarke Buch, said that they put together the budget with a focus on maintaining/increasing town services, responding to the impact of growth in town, and having a manageable increase in taxes.
McNally noted that the “town is beginning to see the positive impacts” of growth and development on the grand list, or the list of all taxable properties within the town, “but also the demand for service.”
For example, McNally is requesting turning some part-time positions in the fire marshal’s office into a full-time position to help handle some of the increases in inspections the town is seeing due to the mixed use developments.
The budget also asks for a new full-time IT position in the police department to deal with their “increasingly specialized” technological needs.
Public safety is the largest expense on the budget, followed by public works, general government, and others. The budget also includes a position cut from the parking area since revenues have been dramatically down due to the pandemic.
On the school side, Board Chair David Dineen said that the Board of Education budget did five main things:
- Supported the school district’s strategic plan
- Made incremental improvements to the district
- Addressed current needs of students
- Realized efficiencies where they could be found
- Incorporated items learned from COVID
The district is projecting its school enrollment to be very steady over the next few years, although they are seeing some increases at the elementary school level, particularly at Ox Ridge Elementary School. Ox Ridge Elementary School is getting a new building, which is set set to be finished in June.
Addley noted that the budget includes:
- New course offerings at the high school and middle school level
- Support for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives
- An additional school psychologist at the high school (which is supported through grants)
- Professional development for teachers
- A technology technician to support the middle school needs
- Upgrades to the district’s servers
Overall, the budget adds nine full-time positions to the district.
“There’s a lot of energy in the district,” he said. “The things that we’re doing in the budget align to the strategic plan.”
This week, the Board of Finance is hosting a public hearing on the proposed budgets on Tuesday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m.