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Budget Proposals Would Up Spending 7.1%

Town Administrator Karl Kilduff's proposed 2013-2014 town budget, combined with the 4.1 percent proposed spending increase in Schools Superintendent Stephen Falcone's proposed budget, would raise spending 7.1 percent this year.

Update 10:57 a.m.:

When asked for copies of his proposed budget Monday evening, Town Administrator Karl Kilduff said it would be made available on the town website Tuesday morning.

It is now available on this page as a PDF file. The document is also attached to this article.

Kilduff prefaces the document with a transmittal letter, which says at one point:

"Annually, the budget document is the single most important policy document acted upon by the Board of Selectmen in that it allocates resources and sets priorities for the upcoming year."

The PDF file used does not allow for copying and pasting the document, so Darien Patch doesn't have this part of the important town document in an easier-to-read format for readers. Patch has asked Kilduff to provide a copy of his letter in such a format so that it can be reprinted here.

Original article:

Town Administrator Karl Kilduff presented a 2013-2014 proposed town budget to the Board of Selectmen that would raise non-education spending by 7.1 percent to $43,249,608.

Combined with Superintendent of Schools Stephen Falcone's $84,911,146 proposed budget, total proposed spending would be $128,160,754. After other revenue sources (such as property transfer fees and state aid) are taken out, the amount to be raised through property taxes would be $118,426,451.

"Nearly 73 percent of the tax rate is attributable to education-related expenses," Kilduff said.

Kilduff said he cut $1.6 million from the requests that town department heads had made for spending.

Translating new spending to tax increases

If taxes had to be raised from the current $8.8 billion town grand list (and they won't—the new grand list, expected to be released by Feb. 1, is expected to show an increase in taxable town property), then the new mill rate would be $13.58 (for every $1,000 in assessed property value).

For a home with an average market value of $1,260,000 (and an assessment of $882,000 at the standard 70 percent of market value), the current $12.68 mill rate produces a tax bill of $11,184.

A new mill rate of $13.58, an increase of 0.90 mills, results in a $12,005 tax bill, or $816 more than this year.

Estimating tax increases based on the current budget proposals is largely an academic exercise because the grand list and the spending numbers are expected to be different when taxes are actually collected, Kilduff said.

New spending projects

One of the biggest new projects in the budget is the $1.5 million Intervale Road sewer project to serve homes in the area of that road, where there have been significant problems with draining rainwater.

The budget also proposes spendng an estimated $100,000 to hire a company to take over management and maintenance of various town buildings. Kilduff and First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said they expected to make public details of the idea during the Department of Public Works budget presentation.

The capital budget would receive a significant spending hike in Kilduff's proposal—37.8 percet more spending, up $775,041 to a new total of $2,821,311.

These spending proposals are in the capital budget:

"New Short-Term Funding Needs":

  • Repairs to the Noroton Heights Fire Department apparatus bay
  • New sidewalk construction
  • Traffic engineering related to the Route 1 Corridor Study
  • Creation of a "common service counter in Town Hall for improved customer service."

"Planned Projects":

  • Year five of five-year Weed Beach paddle tennis court renovations
  • Fire apparatus reserve funding
  • Police vehicle replacements

"Cost Drivers"

Kilduff identified these five areas that accounted for part of the increased spending:

  • Utilities nd Commodities. "Electricity and natural gas costs are assumed to be flat. Heating oil and gasoline costs are projected to be higher than the current year."
  • Facility Management. "Facility management company to provide high level planning, capital budgeting, maintenance oversight and supervision of local staff." Kilduff said school districts have frequently used these companies, but towns have done so far less often.
  • Health insurance. "Assuming a 25 percent increase in premium over the prior year with poor claims development experience."
  • Workers Compensation and Package Insurance. "Costs for all other insurance projects to increase due to carrier reisnsurance costs [from Hurricane Sandy, especially] and Darien-specific loss experience."
  • New Buildings. "Full costs of operations for the new Police Department building, Weed Beach improvements and anticipated costs for operating the new Senior  Center."

To cut the tax rate, at least $87,198 needs to be cut

With the tax rate going up or down by one one-hundredths of a mill, to produce a lower rate, at least $87,198 would need to be cut from the budget, Kilduff said.

Selectmen John Lundeen and David Bayne, the two out of five selectmen who are Democrats, each said that they had only just seen the budget proposal on Monday and weren't sure yet what to make of it—that is, what parts each of them would support or oppose.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said later Monday night that she expected the Board of Selectmen as well as some combination of the Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting to cut the budget and the resulting tax increase.

"They always do," she said.

max January 29, 2013 at 01:31 PM
What about the NEW facilities director just hired?!? WHY is a $100,000 facilities management company needed to do his job? Then should we expect the new facilities director to be dismissed? No, I didn't think so. Just keep piling on the layers and the costs and then wonder why taxes are gng up at multiples of inflation rate.
Chris B. January 29, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Almost half of the increase in the town budget is the debt for the "shuttle" project: $1.1 million!
Liz Mao January 29, 2013 at 11:14 PM
@Chris B. Your number is incorrect. It is actually less than half of what you quoted.

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