By John Fitts
Canton Chief Administrative Officer Robert H. Skinner has proposed a town 2017-18 spending plan of $10,589,284, an increase of $252,200 or 2.44 percent over approved 2016-17 spending levels.
The operations budget is proposed at $9,467,568 while capital improvement funding is pegged at $1,121,716.
A driving factor in the proposal is the state’s mandate that caps municipal expense increases to just 2.5 percent. (Just a few items are excluded).
“Obviously there were sacrifices that had to be made to meet the cap,” Skinner wrote in his budget introduction. “That is why almost half the departments have decreases in their bottom lines.”
Additionally there are no significant new initiatives in the plan, Skinner noted.
While there is a special revenue funded increase in hours for the recreation coordinator, additional hours for the building official and the combination of two, part-time library positions to create a full-time one, there are no “new” positions in the budget.
Skinner said that many staffing requests were turned down due to the cap.
There is a small grand list increase but the town will also face challenges due to the state’s struggles, he wrote.
“Based on the increase in the grand list along with an anticipated increase in the collection of back taxes, the total amount of collected taxes based on the current mil rate is forecast to increase $381,877. Investment income and conveyance fees are expected to increase a total of $77,500,” he wrote. “The unknown is how much funding Canton will receive from the State of Connecticut. The State, which for the past nine years seems to be in a never-ending “fiscal crisis,” is facing a substantial budget deficit in the upcoming fiscal year. The Governor has indicated that Towns with similar demographics as Canton may receive less state funding so that more state funding can be transferred to municipalities that are facing similar fiscal crises as the State. This shifting of financial assets will result in more funds needed to be raised by local property taxes and/or a reduction in expenses. This budget will be presented to the Board of Selectmen prior to the Governor’s budget being presented to the legislators so it is difficult to know the extent of change in State grants at this time.”
For capital costs, approximately $527,000 is suggested for road work (pavement management).
For more see the budget proposal at http://townofcantonct.org/filestorage/19342/20213/30727/FY_2017-2018_Chief_Administrative_Officer’s_Preliminary_Draft_Budget.pdf
The Board of Selectmen is slated to continue its budget workshops Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
School superintendent Kevin D. Case will present his proposed budget to the Board of Education on Tuesday, Feb. 7.