NEWINGTON - About a dozen people showed up to the final public hearing on the townâ€™s 2019-20 budget, and two spoke on the $123.6 million plan.
Elected officials are expected to vote on the proposal on Tuesday, April 16, at a 7 p.m. meeting. If no changes are made, the new mill rate would be 38.41, reflecting a $134 tax increase for the average homeowner.
Department heads submitted their requests to Town Manager Tanya Lane after the holidays and she presented her budget to the council in early March. Expenditures were deliberated at length during special budget meetings over the last month and a half. Councilors waived their right to make additional changes to the tentative budget following the last hearing.
â€śThank you to all the town departments who understand the townâ€™s fiscal situation and submitted requests at or near a zero percent increase,â€ť Mayor Roy Zartarian said during his budget presentation before citizensâ€™ comments.
Newington resident Neil Ryan was one of two who addressed the spending plan.
â€śMy sense is that each party is working really hard to form what they see as a responsible budget,â€ť Ryan said. â€śI donâ€™t see why the final budget canâ€™t be approved unanimously or at least with some bipartisan support. Should that not happen, it will show there is still some partisanship happening at this table.â€ť
The majority of attendees were there to support the Newington Veteran Firefighters Association, a group of current and retired firefighters who support the families and activities of the Newington Volunteer Fire Department.
President Chet Bogacz addressed the council, requesting that a $5,000 grant the town had cut to $2,500 during prior deliberations be restored to its entirety. Bogacz and the other NVFA members did not realize councilors had taken that very action at a prior meeting, reinstating the designated allotment.
Deputy Mayor Beth DelBuono approached the group after the hearing, informing them they had the councilâ€™s full support.
â€śThere was a vote last week to reinstate that money,â€ť she said, thanking them for their service to the town.
Bogacz used the hearing as an opportunity to educate people about the ongoing efforts of the association, which operates largely behind the scenes.
â€śA lot of people donâ€™t know who we are,â€ť he pointed out. â€śWe need this money to ensure future recruitment and continue our association.â€ť
The NVFA celebrated its 65th anniversary last year, with a golf tournament to raise money for an annual scholarship awarded to a Newington High School student pursuing fire science. Members also purchased uniforms for the departmentâ€™s cadet program, detailed the historic 1950 Buffalo fire engine for the Newington Memorial Day Parade and made a generous donation to the Newington Food Bank in honor of the late NVFA president Bob Seiler, one of its most dedicated volunteers.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.