Montville has an adopted 2012-2013 $55.6 million budget that sets the mill rate at 29.33.
A property assessed at $150,000 will have a $4,399.50 tax bill.
The Town Council voted 6 to 1 to adopt the spending plan amid dissatisfaction on all sides.
“We have a budget that makes nobody happy,” Mayor Ronald McDaniel Jr. said calling it a “shared sacrifice.”
The council shaved $97,300 from the proposed budget it walked in with at Tuesday’s hearing, mostly attributed to cutting jobs, namely two administrative posts and the town’s assistant planner, the latter of which at least once councilor acknowledged will likely be restored given the layoff may violate the employee contract. That said, as McDaniel pointed out, the council was “quibbling over the pennies.” By way of example, it cut $250 for parks and recreation programming advertising.
“This is a bad budget. Re-do it and present us with a lower mill rate so people can afford to live in this town,” James Andriote Sr. said to scattered applause.
Around 60 people attended the hearing.
The one councilor that voted against the budget, Dana McFee, said he thought $300,000 should be restored to the Board of Education and deeper cuts should have been applied to the public works budget. When told he could have attended finance committee meetings held to examine department budgets he said his “opinion has been discounted” by the council and he prefers to bring his case “to the public and the media.” And McFee repeatedly urged citizens to create a petition to force the budget to a town-wide vote.
Resident Robert Manfredi argued that the schools are getting more money to educate fewer children.
“We have declining enrollment,” he said and proposed the council “close one elementary school. “Due to this huge pending tax increase…reduce (the schools $36 million budget) by 5 percent at least and close a school.” He said that the schools have more than 600 less children enrolled than in 2008 “and you want more money,” he asked during the public comment portion of the hearing.
One citizen, whose name was not clearly stated (and he declined to identify himself to a reporter and the sign-up sheet was missing after the meeting) said he couldn’t “support (paying for) the mediocre student anymore.”
“Don’t expect retired citizens to cover it,” he said.
Michelle Deshong-Cure said she supported the budget and appropriations to education, especially. She said if something needed to be cut, let it be police weapons.
“When was the last time officers had to use their weapons,” she asked rhetorically. Put the money in our children, our future.”
Councilor Rosetta Jones said that while she is supportive of education saying all her children have master’s degrees and one, a son is a teacher, she believes there has to be a “limit.”
“The town has been more than generous…like a giving tree,” she said. “This year we have unprecedented challenges. I am an advocate for education. My son’s a teacher. But there comes a time for sacrifices.”