North Haven Fares Well with New State Budget Numbers
The state budget saga has had many municipalities, including North Haven, concerned over the big question of funding. With the new bi-partisan budget passed and signed by the governor, officials say the numbers for North Haven look good.
First Selectman Michael Freda said the new budget will see the town “almost fully funded,” with Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funds, Town Aid Road grant funds, and municipal grant funding in the new budget. He said he’s been told that the town will also receive its special education grant of about $2.5 million.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Cronin said that North Haven “fared very well” on the education side. While North Haven Schools Director of Finance, Operations, and Human Resources Tina Tanguay notes the town’s public schools will lose $192,104 in ECS funding for the 2017-’18 fiscal year, it’s much better than Governor Dannel Malloy’s previous executive order that wiped out the town’s ECS funds, a situation that represented a loss of more than $3.8 million.
In addition to being “zeroed out” in ECS funding under the governor’s order, Freda said the town stood to lose more than $5 million in state funding overall. He said he’s grateful to the state legislators who worked hard to pass a favorable budget.
“This is very good news for North Haven, and I remain extremely optimistic because seeing these numbers, knowing what I have in the pipeline on economic development projects that will happen…We’re going to be in outstanding shape over the next two years,” Freda said.
A previous concern of the town was the proposal for Connecticut towns to fund part of the teachers’ pension payment plan, but Freda said the new budget keeps this funding commitment at the state level.
Freda said the good news for residents is that the town budgeted conservatively, allowing for a greater loss of funding than it will actually receive in 2018. He says the news of the new budget came at a good time, as the town is in the middle of conducting a rating call with credit-rating agencies trying to protect the town’s AAA credit rating.
In the uncertain state budget climate, credit rating agencies were considering downgrading the ratings of some municipalities. Freda said he learned that rating agencies were concerned that any potential revenue gap from the state could adversely affect municipalities’ ability to maintain solid reserves, leaving towns vulnerable to downgrading if they depleted the municipality’s general fund.
Freda said he wanted the town to stay “level funded” for this fiscal year, a goal that’s achievable with the new state budget. He added that some municipalities have budgeted too aggressively in the past and the revenue figures don’t match what was put in the budget.
“That’s where municipalities get into a problem; we don’t do that here,” said Freda.
Cronin said some educational plans were put on hold due to the uncertainty of the budget and are now be able to move forward, including the search for a new assistant principal at the middle school and a special education program coordinator for grades 6 to 12.