Finance board OKs town, education budgets
DARIEN — Town officials were aiming for a flat budget at the beginning of the budget season. With only one town body left to issue final approval, that seems possible.
“We had a few cleanups here and there in regards to the state grants. We made adequate allowances, as we assumed that only half of the state-to-town aid grant would be available,” Board of Finance Chairman Jon Zagrodzky said.
The Board of Finance unanimously approved the boards of selectmen and education budgets and set the mill rate for fiscal year 2019 at 16.08 mills on Monday night. A property with an assessed value of $1 million will pay $16,080 in taxes under this new rate.
“Darien Board of Finance approves mill rate of 16.08. This is a TAX RATE REDUCTION from current mill rate of 16.16,” Stevenson tweeted seconds after the board made its decision.
The major decision of the night was to bond three school capital projects instead of leaving them in the Board of Selectmen’s annual budget.
According to Director of Finance Jennifer Charneski, a project to replace the turf baseball fields at Darien High School is expected to cost $575,000, while the renovation of the Holmes School roof and a skylight project are expected to cost $879,471 and $124,592, respectively.
The shifting of these line items — amounting to almost $1.6 million — reduced the Board of Selectmen’s annual budget by 4.81 percent from the previous fiscal year. Its budget for fiscal year 2019 totals $47,049,394.
The Board of Education’s budget passed by the finance board review process unscathed, remaining at a 2.34 percent increase from last fiscal year, or $98,122,266.
Board of Education officials seemed content with the approved budget. When the Board of Finance hosted a public hearing in March, town residents, mostly parents with children in the school system, had clamored for the Board of Finance to make no further changes to the school budget.
“We are proud of the budget and of our work with the Board of Finance,” Board of Education Chairwoman Tara Ochman said via email the day after the vote. “We look forward to our upcoming conversations with the Representative Town Meeting, and believe in the budget that has been put before them.”
The RTM will review the approved budgets and issue its final approval by May 14.