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Killingworth will face several decisions on public spending in the next few weeks.
Killingworth’s Annual Town Budget Meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 20. At this meeting, by town charter, two budgets are up for approval: the town’s operating budget for Fiscal Year 2019-’20 (which starts on July 1, 2019) and the town’s 2019-’20 capital budget.
As I write, however, a petition is circulating to remove these questions to referendum. (We would still have a town meeting on the 20th, to consider a few other items.)
Meanwhile, the RSD 17 school budget was defeated at referendum on May 7. Although Killingworth voters were in favor of the budget, 750 to 336, Haddam voted 485 to 1,147 against. The RSD 17 Board of Education will schedule a new referendum within the next few weeks.
For now, I’d like to tell you about the recommended town budgets on which you will be voting.
The operating budget covers the cost of running the town in the coming fiscal year. The operating budget for 2019-’20 is 1.9 percent higher than this year’s.
The main reason for this increase is an additional $70,000 in funding for capital projects. Other sizable increases include the cost of solid waste disposal from our Transfer Station and the town contribution to the HK Recreation Authority.
Our Public Safety budget is up 2.2 percent. This budget covers operating funds for the Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company, the resident state trooper, and emergency dispatch, among other things.
The budget for the Highway Department is approximately level.
The capital budget covers the cost of major projects expected to start in the coming year. These costs are covered by the operating budget and existing reserves; they do not represent an additional expenditure beyond the operating budget.
The largest part of the 2019-’20 capital budget is almost $1.5 million in road and bridge projects. We estimate that about $423,000 of that will be covered by grants and non-tax revenue.
The capital budget also has $103,000 for equipment for the fire company, $175,000 to replace a 20-year-old highway department truck, and $37,000 toward replacement of the pavilion roof at Parmelee Farm.
The votes on both budgets are votes on expenditures, not how we fund them. Once the RSD 17 budget and the town operating budget are approved, the Board of Finance will determine how much must be raised through property taxes and will set the mill rate for the coming year. The Board of Finance can also choose to use funds already in our general fund to avoid increasing the mill rate. Fortunately, we have a healthy balance in our general fund, and so this is a reasonable option.
The detailed budgets, and a Citizen’s Guide to the budgets, are available in the Killingworth Town Clerk’s Office and at townofkillingworth.com. Please keep your eyes open for the dates of upcoming budget votes. We will post them at townofkillingworth.com and we send email notifications to those who have registered for them.
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