FISCAL YEAR 2019 - WESTON TOWN SIDE AND SCHOOL SIDE
Never too early to talk budgets...so what is a "mil?"  This is the increase to your property tax bill expressed in a confusing way.  Latin for the value of the budget divided by the Grand List (minus outside funding) multiplied by 1000.

CONTENTS: BUDGET REVIEW SCHEDULE 2018-19
BACKGROUND READING:




GET READY. GET SET...WHERE ARE WE NOW? 


"Cliff notes" for Weston Budget Process.  Click above to enlarge.

About Weston will follow the FY'19 education budget meetings right HERE




WESTPORT THE NEW GREENWICH?



Above from May 8, 2018 WestportNOW article regarding Westport's budget - zero increase.



The real numbers here for Weston:

At a Special Board of Finance Meeting on May 3rd at 3pm, the mill rate for Fiscal Year 2018-19 was set at 29.39.  This represents an increase of 1.66% or .48 mills over the present fiscal year.

Previously, the increase had been stated as 1.69, but there are various ways the Finance Board can alter this (i.e. collection rate assumption, etc.).



NO QUORUM.  ON TO REFERENDUM VOTING




WHAT THE CHARTER SAYS:  https://www.ecode360.com/29899112
And then after the Public Hearing, on April 3rd, "Deliberation" and then ATBM PLUS new responsibilities if all or part is rejected at Referendum.





DELIBERATION MEETING PLUS - AGENDA
Discussion of our O.P.E.B. fund discount rate...Weston more than 80% toward current obligations...


Assistant Superintendent of Special Education to be hired NEW in this budget.
"Deliberation" meeting had to be relocated to Town Hall Annex on School Road - time changed to 7PM -  because of Dog Park machine vote preparations...

You'll want the numbers:

$13,047,298 Town operating budget - reduced from $13,072,298
$675, 247 Capital Budget (joint) - reduced from $1,085,247
$51,390,156 Education operating budget - reduced from $51,626,536

There were cuts made.  After discussion - 3 hr meeting.that also included a discussion first with financial consultant regarding percentage we should assume on return from investments.

Bottom line: 1.69 percent tax increase, down from 2.84 percent.  (OOPS.  We had previously said "1.67%" but I guess we were too eager to get that number down even further!!!)






WHAT COMES AFTER BOARD OF FINANCE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BUDGET?  DELIBERATION.


Board of Finance PUBLIC HEARING on FY'19 Budget March 27, 2018 at 8pm in the WMS Library...
  
The Finance Board, however, was all ears.
 
Once again we are faced with precisely the issue of choices.  With limited $$ available how does the Board of Finance "read" the competing demands? 


Referendum Question?

As mentioned already, they heard loud and clear from parents who might well vote "NO" on the school budget.  "NO" because it was prepared prior to Parkland/Westport events.  Mentioned already as well, the BOE budget includes a cut in the number of security personnel. It was suggested that the Referendum ballot include a "too high"or "too low" for "NO" voters.  The Registrars were present to hear this, and one came to the mic and reminded those in charge that they had to make a decision quick because the Referendum ballot form was being prepared now...

Finding funding?
In a $50 million budget there might be a way to find the funds to restore two guards?


LEADING THE CHARGE...


A THREAT?
Lesson from Newtown - sue the Town.


WORK THE SYSTEM?
Protest by voting "no" on the budget and having the opportunity to indicate if it is "too high" or "too low" - this seems to be the next step...




REGISTRAR OF VOTERS MAKES A VERY GOOD POINT.
Ballots are being designed NOW for Saturday April 28th Referendum (I'm not sure, but this is probably something that has to be run by the Secretary of the State's Office before printing the ballot).  If you want to ask "too high" or "too low" of "NO" votes, it has to be approved pretty soon, I would think.


The natives are restless
It is like post-Newtown all over again.  That was the message from parents present.  They want a do-over on this School Budget - and not to cut the extra protection at the entry to elementary/intermediate schools - middle school not mentioned..


Answers
Superintendent of Schools explains the Board's logic.

  
Finance listens...
(R) Front row holds Board of Education (Special Ed, Chair. [hidden] Assistant Superintendent, Superintendent, Director of Finance);  First Selectman and Town Administrator




TO BE CONTINUED AT THE "DELIBERATION MEETING" TUESDAY APRIL 3, 2018 at 7PM IN THE TOWN HALL ANNEX...
We asked, as a "point of information" if this meeting (DELIBERATION") would be on WGTV available to the public, and were assured it would be streamed live and recorded for replay.  I







BOARD OF FINANCE REVIEWED EDUCATION BUDGET MARCH 14th, Wednesday
We watched from home sporadically.  Missed IT matter.  Did anyone question anything?  From what we saw, not really.  A lot of "we can't discuss this in public" and the Police Chief was there to say Weston is way ahead of other districts in having plans in place and "hardening" the campus - and the proxiity to the Annex, where police have technology outpost as well as "right out my window" of Hurlbutt, should make it safer than anything he seemed to ne familiar with.

EDUCATION BUDGET TO BE REVIEWED MARCH 13 TUES. AT 7:30PM, TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM
To be asked...NOT
QUESTIONS ON I.T. CHANGES FOR SURE
Impending snow event Wednesday makes the scheduled "second night" the new date Thursday...nope...


 
On to the Finance Board. Our "coverage" is more atmospheric than reportorial as we had been at meetings since a Special Selectmen's Meeting at 6pm.


How did it go for the First Selectman?


     
FULL HOUSE AS CLOCK STRUCK 8:45PM.  ACTION comes at "DELIBERATION" meeting.
Finance Board review begins and they seem somewhat annoyed that the crowd is getting antsy.



LAST BUT NOT LEAST...


INTERESTED PARTIES STAYED TO THE BITTER END
Note the available seating - over a total three-hour meeting but they got through it and indicated, at least to my satisfaction, that Finance would restore "POCD" full funding after "Deliberation."






SELECTMEN VOTED ON FIRST SELECTMAN"S BUDGET

PREPARING FOR ATBM:  Selectmen vote to recommend Susan Moch Moderator, Woody Bliss Parliamentarian.

After discussing at length what a cut to the Selectmen's budget at $13,072,298 unanimously approved.  Only change was in Police Department at their request and a $10,000 cut in the Capital Budget item for P.O.C.D.





             
Power Point first.  Now online.  Many department heads present.  First Selectman's Budget presentation questioned first by his Board.  Streamed live, now online, plus documentation.

Percentage increases as taken from printed materials:
Look for Special Appropriations outside the budget process for roof for firehouse and related capital projects.

FIRST SELECTMAN PRESENTED HIS BUDGET
We covered this as a meeting of the Board of Selectmen - our comments here.







And some were made...

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 6TH...SELECTMEN REVIEW BOARD OF ED BUDGET (CANNOT CUT IT, ONLY MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS). 

We note for the record that About Town has been rebuked by Board of Education Chair. regarding "accuracy" re:  COMPANY.  We note that the About Town column is an opinion piece.

We certainly apologize to this very new Board of Education if we made their life more difficult.  They are dealing with a financial situation offering few solutions other than what has been forthrightly defined as a major change in approach to how to retain the quality of our education system.  They have a hard row to hoe.





Bravo Town of Weston for showing 10-year view, too!!!  Represented below those town departments and school numbers via pdf the total number for both.


CAPITAL BUDGET COMMITTEE
January 30, 2018 in the Town Hall Meeting Room

A terrific meeting, 90 minutes in length, covered school and town capital needs.  A spreadsheet showing DRAFT of this part of the FY'19 budget PLUS last year's budget number PLUS a ten tear look-out framework, was very impressive!

In the audience were Police Chief and Captain, Library Board Facilities chair. and new Chair. of the Board plus Town Librarian.  They were called upon to explain further how and why their capital expenses are as they are.  Building Committee Chair. present up front, too. 

We note that there are some changes coming regarding internet connectivity (I may be using the wrong terms here) with discussion about "servers" and "security" and why the school had to be held separate from the Town server/system...Education Technology Director to be consulted off-line.  Superintendent and Vice-Chair. of the Board of Education plus Facilities Director present.





About Town will tune in Wednesday, Jan.24th at 6pm for Board of Education discussion for approval and vote.  We will not be able to watch the individual school or special ed or athletics nights detailing those parts of the Superintendent's budget.
T H E    S C H O O L    S I D E



TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2018, 7:30PM
BOARD OF SELECTMEN REVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET REQUEST



BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING JAN. 24, 2018
Prior to the decision on the Superintendent's budget for FY'19, two items were discussed.  With public comment added (we note that the agenda was amended but was this allowed by F.O.I. rules?)

The item that really got me was COMPANY! plea to restore .2 tenths of time for teacher who holds together the theatre programs at the Intermediate, Middle School and High School (which has a magnificent club - "Company!).  This was the unkindest cut of all.

And when it came to whittling down the proposed "Superintendent's" budget, try as hard as they could, they could only get it down to 3.17%.  With significant contributions from brand new members and awesomeness from other new members, I was satisfied that they had done their very best.

Searching questions about I.T. divorce from the Town of Weston, who will outsource their I.T. came up.  What had been a noble try at cooperation by the whole government -Town, Library and Emergency Services with schools - has been reduced to Fire Department and/or Police.

Regarding our guess on the final number - only one member of the school board sought to keep their increase lower.  We note this is the most experienced member of the majority.  One who has lived through the wrath of the Board of Finance...

On the matter of the Company request, we tuned out before the final vote, but confirmed later with Forum editor who had been in attendance that the item for Company was not discussed during budget debate. 




EVENTUAL BENEFIT TO FUTURE OPERATING BUDGETS?
After a Special Meeting at 6pm that eventually, after an Executive Session, approved waiving a Board Policy, approved action in public session allowing Town to pursue potential of virtual net metering.

Overview and Executive Summary FY'19

The focus is on 4 areas.



SUMMARY:


Bottom line is a 3.6% increase - but only 1.2% increase for the rest of the budget other than Special Education - at least that's what I heard over the Education Channel 78. 

-----------------

The Weston Board of Education did an awesome press release on its meetings in runup to adopting a 2018-19 school budget.







DEMOGRAPHICS ?  HOW  DOES  THIS   RELATE?   Weston interested in answers to both questions.  Crowd-funding an option in the school budget climate today?

                    
2017 SPECIAL SESSION LINK
CT MIRROR 5-part series: Especially #1 and #5.  Spending Cap Commission (Summer 2016) wins out in Biennial Budget.  OP-ED on education.  "Extra Special Session Day Do-Over?"  Pun alert.  And then the sad story of CT-N from AP.

LAWS IN EFFECT OCT. 1;  JULY 1, 2017:  https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/aearchives/20170701ActsEffective.asp









DEFICIT MITIGATION
It never ends!






Six (6) new Mayors and First Selectmen will be seated on the 18 member Board after Nov. 7 Election Day results.
First Selectman Spaulding had attended the September and October 2016 WestCOG meetings.  Shown seated to his left, re-elected Westport First Selectman Marpe. 







NEWS REPORTS FROM ELSEWHERE





"Preston — Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the $11.8 million school budget in the third referendum, allowing the Board of Finance to set the 2018-19 tax rate at 26.03 mills.

"Voters approved the budget 410 to 300. The original $11.9 million budget had failed twice in earlier referendums, forcing the town to delay sending out tax bills, normally mailed by July 1. The Board of Finance ultimately cut $215,000 from the proposed school budget, bringing it to $11,831,804.

"The approval came about one week before school starts next Wednesday..."




ANSONIA

Well well now...
STORY OF REGIONALIZATION COMMITTEE FOR DERBY AND ANSONIA:   https://www.nhregister.com/local/article/Ansonia-Derby-school-regionalization-committee-to-13007455.php



ANSONIA...
"...Jeremy Musnicki, a parent of three schoolchildren, said the public debate over the money has been an embarrassment since last week, when Superintendent of Schools...announced the district was out of money, schools may close early and payroll may not be met."  Unlike some of the other budget stories below, Ansonia crosses over to other issues facing municipalities.  Who is in charge of the school budget when much of the funding comes from the State of Connecticut?.

Story in full:  https://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Ansonia-Alderman-approve-a-budget-without-more-12985985.php




REDDING

Question #1 - Redding budget fails by 4 votes.  Question #2 - Region 9  budget passes (total of votes from both towns) in Redding this time




Redding Finance Board makes cuts. Second Referendum vote June 5th:  https://aspetuck.news/lead-news/half-a-million-dollars-cut-from-rejected-town-budget-104380

We wonder how this affects Joel Barlow Regional high school budget...is not Redding Committed to paying whatever the Regional Board of Education says vis a vis shared expense with Easton if voters in both towns together agree?






Easton does not have a Charter - they just turned their ATBM into a Public Hearing!





GLASTONBURY

"Hoping for restoration."
After cuts from last hear, "the new $105,666,982 budget for 2018-19 will represent an increase of 2.2 percent."
COURANT 1-5-18:  http://www.courant.com/community/glastonbury/hc-news-glastonbury-school-budget-20180104-story.html




BETHEL

Bethel rejects town, capital budgets, passes school budget:
https://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Turnout-at-8-5-percent-in-Bethel-budget-referendum-12825611.php
April 11, 2018

BETHEL — Voters rejected the town and capital budgets Wednesday night, but approved the school spending plan.

The town’s $29.8 million share of the overall budget failed narrowly with 1,400 votes in favor and 1,466 votes against, while the $45.1 million school budget passed 1,505 to 1,351, according to unofficial results.

The $2.3 million capital budget, which included funding for a turf field, failed with 1,296 votes in favor and 1,560 against. Turnout was at 25 percent...





BROOKFIELD SCHOOL BUDGET FY'19
http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Brookfield-superintendent-proposes-6-4-percent-12425536.php

Proposed by Superintendent.  Special education costs - an unpredictable number - up.





BROOKLYN & TOWNS IN EASTERN CT

"After the state announced a second, more costly round of cuts, schools in Eastern Connecticut are combing through their already tight budgets. Towns like Brooklyn, Griswold and Plainfield are seeing some of the highest reductions in the state, with Montville and Lebanon not far behind..."

http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/20171130/school-official-2nd-round-of-ecs-cuts-total-ambush





NORTH STONINGTON

It ain't over 'til it's over department:  School budget goes down by 10 votes in delayed Referendum, back to voters
https://www.theday.com/local-news/20171130/north-stonington-pushes-same-education-budget-toward-second-referendum





GREENWICH

Election over, Superintendent proposes a 2.2% increase (bumped up to 4.3% since Greenwich will now put cost of school bus service in education budget - had been on Town side previously).
http://www.greenwichtime.com/local/article/Gildea-proposes-159-7-million-school-budget-12348565.php








Death and taxes and inverse results of taxing policies.  Will Tax Bill make it to the President's desk?
http://www.westport-news.com/news/article/Francis-P-DeStefano-Raising-tax-rates-vs-12347780.php