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Budget Addressed at Annual Town Meeting

Vote not expected until June

 

By Wiley Wood

Richard Byrne moderated the annual town meeting.

At the annual town meeting on Monday, May 8, Norfolk residents appointed a new member to the Regional School District #7 Board of Education and approved $26,000 in funding for the physical revaluation of taxable property in 2018 but did not vote on a budget.

Although the budget vote is usually the main business of the annual town meeting, Michael Sconyers, chairman of the Board of Finance, asked that the action be deferred until the state adopts its own budget.

“It would be the height of foolishness,” said Sconyers, “to pass a budget when you don’t know what you are or are not going to get from the state.”

Concerns were raised in the audience about the governor’s proposal to shift part of the cost of teachers’ pensions from the state to the towns. “If that happens, where will we find the money?” asked Judy Ludwig.

“The short answer is we’d have to raise another $157,000,” said Sconyers. “That’s half a mill.”

The mill rate, which sets the number of tax dollars owed per $1,000 of assessed property, currently stands at 22.09 mills in Norfolk and is projected to rise in the coming year to 22.44, according to the Board of Finance’s provisional budget.

The new member of the regional school board, unanimously voted in at the meeting, is Karen Vandever, who joins Debbie Bell in representing Norfolk’s interests at the middle and high school levels. Leaving the board is long-serving member Don Torrant, who warmly endorsed Vandever and applauded the Regional #7 school system for its high academic quality and low cost.

The annual per pupil cost at Regional #7, according to the Connecticut School Finance Project, is $16,860, which is on the low end for schools in the area.

Michael Sconyers, chairman of the Board of Finance, answered residents’ questions.

The budget for Regional #7 was approved by referendum in the participating towns on May 2. The total budget of $21 million marked a 2.29 percent increase over last year. Norfolk’s share for the 93 students it sends to Regional was $1,767,298, a $94,000 increase. The vote count in Norfolk was 71 in favor of the Regional #7 budget and 23 opposed, a turnout described by First Selectman Sue Dyer as average.

The state legislature is likely to pass the state budget in early June, at the end of the current legislative session. The Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance will then set a date for a second town meeting to vote on a 2017–2018 budget.

“And if you’re wondering what happens if the state doesn’t adopt a budget by June 30, which is a real possibility,” said Sconyers, “unlike the feds, we don’t shut down. We’ll go on last year’s budget, just so you know. Things in town are still going to happen.”

The meeting was chaired by Town Clerk Linda Perkins and moderated by Emergency Management Director Richard Byrne.

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