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Almost $1 Million Cut in Proposed Town-side Spending

A whittle here, a whittle there, and eventually you've cut almost a million dollars: Selectmen have identified enough money to get the town-side budget increase for next year down to 6.57 percent—still $2.5 million above the $38.8 million budget approved

The sand you curled your toes around last summer at or beaches is still good enough for this year, so the town won't be replacing it, the Board of Selectmen decided this week.

First Selectmen Jayme Stevenson and Selectman Gerald Nielsen each visited the beaches to see for themselves if the same sand could last another year. On Wednesday night, the three other selectmen said they were happy to agree with them that more sand wasn't needed, and taxpayers saved $45,500 as a result.

Funding for new beach sand was one among dozens of accounts where the Board of Selectmen either eliminated spending or reduced it this week.

By the time they were done for the week, selectmen had pared down the original 9.03 percent budget increase in the request from Town Administrator Karl Kilduff to 6.57 percent, cutting $952,005 from the total.

Unless selectmen cut more on Monday night, they will present to the Board of Finance a budget that increases town spending by $2,549,983. The Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting will then review the budget and may make further changes.

Also among the cuts:

  • A $2,000 metal reviewing stand for parades won’t be bought (not necessary, selectmen agreed).
  • An undefined proposal for a new program at the ($2,000) is now eliminated (better to expand programs for the center when it moves into new quarters at the planned Mather Community Center, selectmen decided).
  • Selectmen agreed to a proposal already in Town Administrative Officer Karl Kilduff's proposed budget to eliminate a $29,500 grant to Youth Options, a Stamford-based program for youths with substance abuse problems. The organization didn't seem to be doing much in Darien, and it hadn't been reporting to the board on how it had been spending its money, or how it wanted to spend it in the future, Kilduff said.
  • Selectmen decided not to take $12,500 from the money cut from Youth Options and add it to grant because the Darien organization hadn't presented a detailed proposal for why the money is needed. If a convincing proposal could be made at the board's Monday night meeting, selectmen said, they would consider it.

Not cut

In the same meeting, the Board of Selectmen decided to fully fund the request from the (an increase of $94,013), the Darien Nature Center (a total request of $6,500) and a $29,000 account for harassing Canadian geese to keep them off of various town properties.

When Selectman John Lundeen expressed surprise at the cost of the geese-harassing efforts, Town Administrator Karl Kilduff and some selectmen explained that as expensive as it was, the man and dog who harass the birds have been the most cost-effective, legal way found so far to keep the messy creatures from taking over various parks and fields.

Darien Library received its increase in funding because selectmen agreed the library has been controlling its costs at least as well as the town government has (see the attached document that presents the library's budget).

The Nature Center had been getting money from the town government in large part because it had built and maintained toilets in its building that were accessable from outside. The toilets had been used by visitors to Cherry Lawn Park (where the center is located) and are not even accessible from inside the building.

Selectmen agreed to provide a grant of $6,500 for another year, but they also agreed to tell the Nature Center that the grant would end sometime in the two following years, since other toilets have been introduced to the park.

Editor's note: This article originally was published at 6 a.m. The time stamp has been changed for layout purposes on the Home page of Darien Patch.

Watchdog February 10, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Why does it take the BOS to see that we don't need sand? Undefined programs at the Senior Center? Why would the unaccountable Youth Options even be proposed? Isn't that what we pay Kilduf & Swiatek to figure out? Sounds like put-it-in-and-see-if-it- gets-cut.
Jim McCann February 10, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Come on BOS......look deeper......this "trimming" is purely cosmetic.....can't we be more creative at reducing cost rather than just "cutting"....My God..........
Margaret Ragur February 10, 2012 at 04:13 PM
They should cut the police budget by 2/3rd's. That would help a lot.
Charley February 10, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Police are needed in Darien to deal with such issues as drunks babbling in the street and port-a-potty parties at Tilly Pond.

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