Branford Finance Board Recommends $120.773M Budget to RTM
Members of Branford’s Board of Finance discuss the 2021-22 recommended Town of Branford budget March 29. Image Capture from BCTV/Facebook )
Branford First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove (right) discusses the budget on March 29 as Finance Director Jim Finch (left) and Assistant Finance Director Kathyrn LaBanca (center) listen in. Image Capture from BCTV/Facebook )
With unanimous votes on March 29, Branford’s Board of Finance (BOF) is recommending a 2021-22 annual Town budget of $120,773,315 which would nudge the mill rate up to 29.52 mills from the current rate of 28.92 mills. During its budget review process in March, the BOF reduced requested 2021-22 Town budget expenditures by a total of $779,453.
The BOF-recommended budget now heads to Branford’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) for final review and possible changes in the coming weeks. Once the full RTM votes to adopt a final budget, the BOF’s next role in the budget process is finalizing and setting a new mill rate for the new fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2021.
As recommended by the BOF, the Town’s 2021-22 budget would be funded with non-tax revenues of $17,552,277 and a net of $106,292,038 raised from property taxes, based on a collection rate of 98.1 percent from the Town’s $3.693 billion grand list and support from a general fund balance allocation of $3,078,000.
Speaking at the March 29 BOF special session and budget meeting, BOF chairman Joseph Mooney discussed the proposed property tax increase, which he noted equates to six-tenths of one mill.
“It is an increase that we believe would be acceptable to the citizens as well as the RTM,” said Mooney. “For an assessment of approximately $250,000 it would equate to about a $150 increase in taxes. So it is an increase, but we feel it’s important to fund the projects and the operating budget that we’ve described.”
During several budget workshop sessions in March, the BOF heard from Town government department heads and the Board of Education (BOE) ahead of making its vote on March 29. The BOF began the workshops facing a proposed total budget of $121,552,768 representing an annual spending increase of $3,310,525 and a new mill rate of 29.83.
On March 29, the BOF concluded its work by voting unanimously to recommend a 2021-22 Town budget of $120,773,315 which breaks down to providing $60,303,541 for education operating and capital projects and $60,469,774 for all other town departments.
When reviewing the BOE’s proposed 2021-22 school operating budget requesting $60,287,964, the BOF reduced proposed funding of medical self-insurance (employee group insurance) from 100 percent funding to 97 percent of claims, cutting $282,153 from the bottom line. When reviewing the school capital projects budget, the BOF recommended appropriating $120,000 from the current budget to jump-start construction of a new servery in the cafeteria at Branford High School (BHS). That BOF action reduced the BOE’s 2021-22 capital budget request from $418,000 to $298,000 while still allowing the servery project to go forward at BHS this year.
Similarly, when reviewing all other Town department budgets, the BOF moved to reduce medical self-insurance funding from 100 percent to 97 percent of claims, creating a reduction of $156,000. Other reductions and changes can be reviewed by viewing the March 29 special meeting at BCTV on Facebook. The meeting took place at Branford Fire Headquarters and was broadcast by BCTV.
Speaking at the meeting following the BOF votes on March 29, First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove thanked the BOF, Finance Director Jim Finch and Assistant Finance Director Kathyrn LaBanca for their work on this year’s budget, among others.
“This has been a challenging year. Throughout the year, we’ve heard in these meetings, as others, it’s unprecedented times, challenging times, extraordinary times,” said Cosgrove. “Drafting this budget, certainly we recognize what we face. But I think we’ve met the challenges, as we have in the past, when developing a budget. We hold a strategy that has served this town well. We look to maintain a high level of service, we fund our future liabilities, and all while being sensitive to the tax payers [and] I look forward to continuing that strategy as we go through the RTM process.”
In addition to chairman Mooney, members of Branford’s finance board are Harry DiAdamo, Victor Cassella, Robert Imperato, Charles Shelton Jr. and Jeffrey Vailette.