Old Saybrook Budgets Overwhelmingly Adopted at Referendum
On May 10, Old Saybrook voters overwhelmingly approved the town budget of $48,377,698, a $1,189,977 or 2.52 percent increase. The mill rate will be set on Tuesday, May 17.
The town budget was approved with 179 votes in favor and 17 against. The education budget passed by a margin of 183 in favor to 13 opposed.
The total budget is composed of a town budget of $20,904,357 (a 2.39 percent increase) and an education budget of 27,473,341 (a 2.62 percent increase). Although spending increases in the budget, Finance Director Lee Ann Palladino said earlier in 2022 that the mill rate may not raise.
“Due to an increase in the Grand List, particularly the Motor Vehicle Grand List, the town expects its mill rate to remain flat or have a slight increase. The mill rate is currently 20.05,” Palladino said in April.
The approved budget has no positions added or cut. Instead, the increase in the budget on the town side were largely a result of benefit increases and operational costs.
“The 2.39 percent increase was associated with a salary increase of 2.90 percent, benefit increases of 6.72 percent, and operational increases of 3.5 percent. Debt service decreased 4.30 percent,” Palladino explained prior to the vote taking place. “Salary increases were based on contractual obligation associated with the town’s four collective bargaining agreements. Operational expenses were associated with an increase in the paving budget, as well as higher costs of services and goods due to inflationary pressures.”
As for capital projects in the budget, the town is looking to add a new gazebo for the Town Hall, equipment for the Department of Public Works, and equipment for the Park and Recreation Department. The total cost of the capital projects is $164,217.
Superintendent of Schools Jan Perruccio told the Harbor News that the schools are also not altering any positions in the education budget.
Planned capital projects for the schools include new gym floors at the high school and middle school, technology upgrades, and culinary room shelving at the high school.
Reached for comment after the budgets passed, First Selectman Carl Fortuna said, “We have had good success with budgets over the last few years, for which I am grateful to our citizens. I believe one of the big reasons for our overwhelming support has to do with the professional management that we have installed in Town Hall with a finance director, investments in modern software, and better H.R. services.”
“Our budgets have been relatively lean funding documents that make appropriate short- and long-term investments. The town is truly set up for future success. I would like to thank Lee Ann Palladino, the town’s finance director, and all our volunteer boards and commissions for their efforts in a successful budget season,” Fortuna continued.
Last year, voters passed both proposed also budgets in landslide margins. The town budget passed by a vote of 227 for and 15 against, while the education budget passed with a vote of 229 for and 10 against. This year turnout was substantially lower with only 197 voters turning out.