NORWALK, Conn. – The game of Norwalk budget pong continued Thursday as Mayor Harry Rilling recommended a 2018-19 capital budget that is substantially higher than that recommended by the Planning Commission.
Rilling recommended $41 million more than the Planning Commission recommended and $2.4 million more than Finance Director Bob Barron to reflect “my priorities of investing in the Norwalk Public Schools by fully funding the second year of the city’s aggressive 5-year capital plan which includes $172.8 million of improvements to our Board of Education’s facilities and other capital needs along with improving the quality of life of our citizens by continued investments in our parks and maintaining the city’s infrastructure,” he wrote in his letter to the Board of Estimate and Taxation.
“I have also included in the plan’s year four and five the design and construction of both a West Rocks soccer complex and Broad River baseball complex at $2.1 million each,” Rilling wrote.
The budget now goes to the Board of Estimate and Taxation, which will make its own recommendation and submit it to the Common Council by April Fool’s Day. The Council makes its decision by April 15.
The Planning Commission including funding to design a West Rocks soccer complex and a Broad River baseball complex in 2018-19 but no money for construction, Rilling wrote. His recommendation plans design in 2021-22 and construction the following year.
The Planning Commission recommended funding 43,748,000 for Jefferson School and Columbus School in 2019-20, but Rilling has those funds in this year’s budget, he wrote.
Rilling cut the Board of Education’s district technology request by $441,000, “to a level in line with historic expenses,” although Norwalk Public Schools Chief of Technology, Innovations and Partnerships Ralph Valenzisi has said increased investments are necessary to deal with cyber security threats.
Rilling recommends delaying repairs to Norwalk fire stations to put off $410,000 in expenses for a year. Apparatus replacement was reduced by $195,000, with the expectation of funding in 2021-22.
Rilling cut the Department of Public Works request by $905,000, which includes $400,000 requested for North Taylor Avenue drainage, $150,000 from construction of new sidewalks, $100,000 from traffic systems enhancements and $75,000 from Main Library improvements.
“The Redevelopment Agency’s Wall Street Improvement project was reduced $500,000,” Rilling wrote. “This is an ongoing annually funded project which currently has available balances in the project accounts for ongoing projects yet to be completed. The Director of Finance and his staff are working to ensure that existing available funds are fully utilized to ensured appropriate funding of redevelopment initiatives and that all commitments to match grant funds are not in jeopardy.”