NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s financial gate keepers aren’t yet finagling figures to find money for Norwalk’s school budget, even if a state committee threw a wet blanket on Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposal for state aid coming Norwalk’s way.
While the state Education Committee voted Thursday to drop Norwalk’s proposed funding for 2013-2014 through the ECS (Educational Cost Sharing) formula by $1.4 million, Mayor Richard Moccia and other members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation said they’re sticking with the plan at present.
“These are only committees; this was a recommendation from one committee,” Moccia said. “The entire budget has to be worked on now, through appropriations to the house; they may go back to the governor’s recommendations, they may stay with something in between. But right now there is no way we can predict what is going to happen. I think we have to stay with this budget.”
By charter, the city has to set a tentative operating budget by the first Monday in April, Finance Director Thomas Hamilton said. The Common Council can adjust the cap on April 9; the BET sets the final budget and the tax rate on May 6.
Trying to figure out what the state is going to do is like “kids trying to grab jello,” Moccia said.
BET Chairman Fred Wilms agreed.
“We have essentially five more weeks to go,” he said. “I think at this point if we try to mind-game this we’re just going to be chasing our own tails.”
Moccia, who spoke to Malloy on Monday morning, said the gun violence issue had been the driving force in Hartford, and, with a compromise in hand, attention will now be able to focus on other things.
Hamilton rattled off figures in the changing proposed operating budget; the end result was that the current proposal is $206,000 less than the cap authorized by the council. That’s due to labor contracts that have been settled and updated health insurance premium and workman’s compensation estimates.
Wilms said BOE leaders Mike Barbis and Mike Lyons are “actively speaking” to the state, keeping apprised of the situation.
“We’re looking for different ways we can plug any gaps if that’s what happens five weeks from now,” Wilms said. “We’re hoping for the best, planning for the worst, but certainly we do see we’re $206,000 under the cap right now. Obviously if in May we need to look at some things there’s some dry powder there if that’s what’s needed. But we’re hoping the ship at the state level rights itself.”
The proposed 2013-2014 operating budget was approved unanimously.