Norwalk Council will debate $318M spending cap next week

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Common Council Finance Committee Chairman Bruce Kimmel closes Thursday’s meeting.

NORWALK, Conn. – The Common Council’s Finance Committee moved the operating budget process along Thursday night, advancing Finance Director Thomas Hamilton’s recommendation along to the full council for a vote without debating it or making any alterations.

The budget at this point calls for a total 2014-2015 budget cap of $318,480,145, less intergovernmental grants of $16,163,897. That makes the cap on spending due to Norwalk property taxes $302,316,248.

It calls for a 2.9 percent increase in spending, for both the Board of Education and the city, Chairman Bruce Kimmel said, calling it a “pretty even deal.”

The 2013-2014 budget was for $309,427,949.

Hamilton kept this budget lower than it might have been by taking $1.2 million out of the BOE insurance budget. Hamilton said the board has accumulated enough money in its insurance account and does not need to add more to it. Kimmel said everyone seems to agree with that decision. Board members had checked with a consultant, he said. “Their projections were pretty solid,” he said.

The goal for this year was to keep the increase as low as possible because it’s a property revaluation year, Kimmel said.

“I think they did a good job,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised that they were able to come in in a reval year with a budget, where the impact of the budget was minimal. We tried to ameliorate the impact of the reval on basically the 5th and 6th Taxing Districts. That was the goal. That can only go so far but I think coming in low like that, it helped. … You’ve got to be extra careful every five years. I think 2.9 percent spending increase, the lowest it’s been in three years, that’s the best you can do.”

The committee did not get to debate the budget because of all the snow, Kimmel said. Last week’s meeting had been canceled; ordinarily the committee would listen to the Finance Department’s recommendation and then discuss it one week later.


5 responses to “Norwalk Council will debate $318M spending cap next week”

  1. Don’t Panic

    What would be more interesting than the total budget number and percentage cap would be a discussion of the performance based budget process and what decisions were made as a result. Were salary increases based upon an overall average performance rating in the 10th percentile, for example?
    What trade offs were made to keep the budget increase this low when BOE is getting an increase and the city is now having to hire a new blight enforcement officer?
    What programs have been viewed as extraneous due to productivity improvements or technology so that they can be cut without impact?
    What service reductions were considered for restoration, like yard waste removal, if any?

  2. spanner

    Don’t Panic

    The extra police officer won’t replace the several patrol officers used during opening and closing of school taking the place of crossing gaurds that call in sick all the time,

    The fire course at NCC won’t replace engine four that keeps breaking down on its way to fires.

    Just saw one of the Norwalk Parking auth trucks in Bridgeport the other day sporting a Norwalk municipal plate,trust the city isn’t taking a bath on questionable usage why two people in the truck both talking on cell phones is allowed while driving seem to be the red flag.

    Trade offs are probably more discreet than before the ones always asking for accountability no longer have to give it.

  3. LWitherspoon

    This budget was created by finance director Thomas Hamilton, who I believe serves at the pleasure of Mayor Rilling.
    What elements of this budget, if any, fulfill campaign promises made by Mayor Rilling?
    In prior years there have been presentations which showed the exact breakdown of increased spending. Is there such a presentation this year?

  4. Bruce Kimmel

    For the record: Last night we combined the finance department’s budget recommendation with an extended discussion of the budget; all in all, we spent about two and a half hours on the budget. We also discussed the budget at our December and January finance committee meetings. When we concluded the “discussion” last night, we decided it was too late (about 10:20) to begin what would have been a sustained debate on the budget cap, with a possible recommendation to the full Council next Tuesday, where we would have continued the debate. What we did instead was pass along the cap that was based on the finance department’s recommendation. The condensed nature of our deliberations was caused by the snow that forced us to cancel last week’s committee meeting.

  5. Piberman

    Since City per capita spending has increased 55% over the past two decades amidst nearly flat income growth we expect short meetings from Council members committed to spend Norwalk into Bridgeport. Imagine if council members had the audacity to ask Dept Heads to reduce budgets ? Dancing in the streets.

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