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$34-Million Budget to be Discussed Monday at Town Meeting

WOODBURY – The Annual Town Budget Meeting will be held 7 p.m. Monday, May 21, at the Woodbury Senior Center.

The Board of Selectmen have proposed a budget of $34,044,349 for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The mill rate estimate required to support this budget is 26.58 mills which is a reduction of .58 mills (-2.1%) over the current fiscal year. If approved, the tax on a $300,000 assessment will go down by $174 per year.

A town wide referendum will be held Tuesday, May 30.

The proposed Annual Budget of $34,044,349 consists of a $11,115,316 total municipal budget (which includes an $800,000  appropriation of Fund balance/surplus to its mill rate mitigation fund in anticipation of increases resulting from the Nonnewaug High School renovation financing), plus the $22,929,033 Woodbury share of Region 14 costs as approved May 11 by the Board of Education.

“The issues in Hartford of crafting a state budget continue to complicate local budgets – both for towns and schools,” DeSorbo said. “But this year several aspects have worked in Woodbury’s favor. The legislature kept its commitment to the ECS grant amounts and now it can’t be cut mid-year by the governor when looking for savings. The Region 14 student enrollment rates of change have also balanced out in the schools this year.”

Because of the final State Budget approved by the legislature on May 9, Board of Finance Chairman Alex DeSorbo said that Woodbury will benefit from an increase in the Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) Grant of $128,588 going from the original estimate of $1,184,202 to $1,312,790.

Two smaller grants were eliminated by the state resulting in a reduction of about $20,000 in revenue to the Town.

On the cost side, the Region 14 budget was modified by the Board of Education on May 11. The total changes in region revenue and expenditures incorporated by the Board of Education – most notably the increase to the State grant for Vocational Agricultural schools from $3,200 to $4,200 for each of the 330 students Nonnewaug’s Ellis Clark program. That resulted in a total reduction of $335,431 to Woodbury’s 75.8% share of the school budget.

While enrollment figures last year shifted about $700,000 of cost to Woodbury, this year the pendulum has swung back, DeSorbo said. Although a decline in enrollment continues, the five year percentage decline of the two Region 14 towns has equalized, balancing out costs burdens accordingly.

“There is always more to do,” DeSorbo said. “But we are starting from a good position. Woodbury has a strong fund balance with a fully funded capital roads and equipment program in place and we are preparing well for the impact of the high school renovation – the largest capital project ever in the town’s history.

DeSorbo added that all this is in place while the town’s increases in property taxes have averaged less than 1% per year over the past three years, both Town and schools.

“Not many towns can make that claim,” DeSorbo said. “The departments and the Board have prepared this budget well, we are beginning to get our fair share of help from the state, and we are funding and working on the things that will continue to make Woodbury a great place to live.”

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