Town Manager’s $109 Million Budget Up for Review
NEWINGTON - A $109.75 million Town Manager-proposed overall budget, that will bump the mill rate up to 34.9, is on the table for review as of March 11’s Town Council meeting.

       Last year’s $106 million figure raised the mill rate to 33.36.

       The proposal for the 2014-15 year, a 3.03 percent increase, of course, can still change. Budget meetings are not over and the Town Council still has to weigh-in with its own version.

       A proposed $32.29 million general government expenditure includes increases in retirement, medical insurance and wages. Salomone projects a need for $507,771 more for retirement benefit-related costs.

       “Our goal is for our pension funds to have a better funding ratio,” Salomone said.

       Salomone is trying to increase the town’s pension contribution by 12.6 percent, according to Councilor Clarke Castelle. The amount Newington puts in is determined by the Annual Required Contribution (ARC) and Salomone makes that the minimum. Last year, the town contributed $800,000 more than the Milliman Inc. actuarial firm assessment, which is calculated based on liability and perceived stock market-risk related trends, Castelle said.

       Castelle estimated that pension contributions make up close to 10 percent of the town’s budget.

       Salomone has medical insurance up by $441,049 and wages by $481,666.

       “[Wages are] about double what [they] normally would be, because there’s two years of wage increases for employees in town, except the police department, because we settled that contract with them,” Salomone said.

       The Board of Education side of Salomone’s budget is $67.89 million, a 2.7 percent increase from the 2013-14 fiscal year. Superintendent of Schools Bill Collins’ own proposal had requested a 4.9 percent increase, and the Capital Improvement Plan Committee, a joint Town Council and Board of Education body, has been working to close the gap between the two.

       As of March 11’s meeting, $600,000 had already been taken from the John Wallace Middle School STEM Academy project, the site of a necessary PCB remediation, in order to fund bus and technology-related needs. More extra funds are expected, with a projected $150,000 surplus generated by savings from the Board of Education’s healthcare costs.