CANTON, May 19, 2020 – Canton’s Board of Finance accepted $248,985 in additional reductions from the Board of Education and the Board of Selectman on Monday night before passing the town budget for 2020-21 and setting the new mill rate.
The Board of Finance unanimously approved a budget of $40.7 million that will require a mill rate increase of 0.56 mills to 32.59 mills for a 1.75 percent hike in the mill rate. The total budget is 2.16 percent higher than it was a year ago.
There will be no town referendum on the budget due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order on March 21 that, in part, suspended the in-person budget adoption requirement for cities and towns.
“Happily, we are not cutting educational program or public safety, nor are we shortchanging the future with this budget,” First Selectman Robert Bessel said. “It’s a very well-balanced effort accomplished in a collaborative manner.”
The Board of Finance worked closely with the Board of Education, Board of Selectmen, the town and school administration to develop the budget. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
While budget meetings have been virtual in March and April due to the pandemic, town residents submitted more than 40 pages of comments regarding the budget that were shared with elected officials.
“I am pleased with all of the collaboration between all of the members of the Board of Finance, Board of Selectmen (BOS), Board of Education (BOE), the town and school administrators,” said Jennifer Rottkamp, chair of the Board of Finance. “And we were able to hear the voice of the citizens.”
A week ago, the Board of Finance asked the BOS to return to this meeting with suggestions to cut $121,000 from their budget and they asked the BOE about what would need to be cut to reduce their budget by nearly $128,000.
The specific proposed cuts proposed to the BOS budget and the capital improvement budget can be found on page 72 of the meeting packet. All capital improvement projects in town, including those regarding the schools, are managed by the Board of Selectmen.
Cuts include $26,850 from the Park and Recreation for seasonal staffing, a reduction of $5,000 from the library budget for part-time staff, a reduction of $6,700 for community agencies, a $3,000 reduction on consulting fees and a $1,610 reduction in the snow removal budget.
Instead of purchasing a field aerator ($6,840) for maintenance, the town would rent one as needed.
Proposed cuts to the capital improvement budget including $10,000 to replace a mobile office at the transfer station, $34,128 for a study of the town’s communication (fire and police) equipment and a $25,000 reduction toward an proposal to replace a Department of Public Works truck.
Bessel said the town still plans to replace the mobile office. They will use transfer station fees to cover this cost. They still plan to do the communications study but will use savings from a recent refinancing of town debt to cover this cost. And the town is still moving forward on purchasing a new truck but they anticipate $25,000 from sale of truck parts to go toward the purchase of the vehicle.
The Board of Education made $127,895 in reductions to their budget. The BOE reduced the amount of money to supplement the food service operation in Canton schools by $10,000. They will reconfigure the vacant Assistant Superintendent of Schools position to save $50,000 in salary will use some unused 2017-18 Open Choice grant funds to purchase $68,000 of Chromebook laptop computers for use by incoming seventh and ninth grade students instead of keeping that money in the budget.
The final Board of Education budget is $27.4 million, up from $26.6 million in this current fiscal year. The final Board of Selectmen budget, which includes the capital improvement projects, is $11.3 million, up from $11.0 million this year.