Singular Budgetary Authority
Clinton is due a new charter in November, but until then the Board of Finance (BOF) is Clinton’s one and only budgetary authority. The boards of Education and Selectmen can make recommendations. The superintendent of schools and first selectmen are heeded and respected. But the buck stops with the BOF and ultimately the voters at referendum on May 8.
Based on Capital Expenditure Committee recommendations, at the March 18 BOF meeting, the BOF agreed to add $556,200 to the proposed 2020 Education capital budget to repair deteriorating external pipes at the Elliot School and to add $715,000 to the town capital budget for the 2020 property assessment revaluation ($240,000), a Department of Public Works dump truck ($200,000) and various Public Works projects ($275,000). This is to be offset from $1,271,200 appropriated as revenue in the 2020 budget from the 2018 surplus.
However, this isn’t what’s now published in the budget legal notices. All $1.2 million was lumped into the town capital budget with no indication of how these funds will be used. This inflates the town budget and understates the education budget by $556,200. This inflates the town budget increase to 10.8 percent instead of 7.7 percent and deflates the Education budget increase to 3.5 percent instead of 5.0 percent.
This sets up the town budget to be defeated and improves the education budget’s chances of passing by inexplicably misleading voters.
Repeated requests for a correction or explanation made to the town finance director have been ignored. The BOF chair, Dara Onofrio, asked me to back off.
Someone in Town Hall has gone rogue and the BOF chair hasn’t asserted the BOF’s singular budgetary authority. Voters should voice their concerns about this and the projected 4.3 percent tax increase at the public hearing at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10.