Jul 26, 2014
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The Final Bite at Trumbull's Budget Apple

The Town Council listened to a handful of residents, many of whom have followed the 2013-2014 budget process since the beginning.

The Final Bite at Trumbull's Budget Apple

[Editor's note: The proposed THS concession stand is still in the planning stages.]

With the Town Council's debate on the proposed 2013-2014 budget looming, residents criticized the "budget gimmicks" and the process at the final public hearing April 4.

The full Town Council will review the proposed $151.9 million budget, possibly make its own changes and vote April 10 at 8 p.m. in Town Hall.

Debate on the budget has centered around the use of "budget gimmicks," leading to charges of less transparency in the proposal.

The first speaker, Lainie McHugh, said the Council takes up the budget before the Board of Finance is scheduled to talk about bonding for school technology updates, Trumbull High School turf and school security.

"The Town Council is voting on money it hasn't talked about yet," she said. (The Town Council's Finance Committee conducted Thursday's hearing and will make its recommendation to the full Council on April 8 at 7 p.m.)

Regardless of whether items are bonded or in the operating budget, "We are paying for it one way or the other," McHugh added.

She also asked the committee spare the proposed 2013-2014 education budget, which calls for a 2.74 percent increase.

Under the proposal, the Board of Education must trim $1.862 million to meet the 2.74 percent increase recommended by the Board of Finance and First Selectman Tim Herbst. The board had asked for a 4.56 percent increase to cover a small staff increase and salaries and benefits.

Resident Cindy Katske reiterated her request for more guidance counselors at Trumbull High School, adding that the school district is "being penalized for doing a good job" in controlling its spending.

Senior Concerns

Resident Tony D'Aquila said many seniors no longer consider Trumbull "an affordable place to live."

He criticized the "as new" renovations of Trumbull High School and the construction of the new THS auditorium, in addition to pondering spending thousands on a new concession stand for THS.

In comparison, the Senior Center needs a new kitchen, he said.

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D'Aquila also attacked the Water Pollution Control Authority's moving $10 million of non-sewer-related costs onto town taxpayers.

"Our politicians love to borrow money using 20- to 30-year bonds," while denying requests such as sidewalks, street lights, traffic lights and crosswalks.

"Every time we ask for something, the town says no, no, no. Give the seniors the respect they deserve," D'Aquila said.

Move Forward

"I insist you change the way you fund activities in this town," said resident Scot Kerr.

He said "shell games" have made the budget process confusing, such as basing budgets on projected savings to pay for items today. Don't bond technology that won't last long, he added.

Gimmicks have made it difficult to have an intelligent conversation on the budget, according to Kerr.

"This year's damage is done. Let's move forward" and ensure that future budgets do not have such issues.

Finally, Rich White presented a petition asking the Council to keep the education budget proposal intact. The Council cannot add to the budget.

Meanwhile, both the Town Council and the Board of Finance will meet April 11 to discuss bonding for school security, THS turf maintenance and technology upgrades.

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