Somers budget process moving forward

By Tom Phelan - Staff Writer
Somers - posted Thu., Mar. 3, 2011
Somers First Selectman Lisa Pellegrini. Photo by Tom Phelan.
Somers First Selectman Lisa Pellegrini. Photo by Tom Phelan.

With a $3 billion deficit looming over the state as the new year began, Somers First Selectman Lisa Pellegrini, like other town officials in Connecticut, was holding her breath to see what havoc that might wreak on town budgets for the new fiscal year.

“While I appreciate the governor’s commitment to holding ECS funding, it is an untrue statement that towns have maintained their level of aid,” Pellegrini said of the recent activity at the capital. “We have seen a decrease of $146,000. While that may not seem a lot in comparison to bigger cities, it is a big deal to Somers.”

Last year Somers began a program of necessary preventive maintenance on its buildings. The new budget proposed by the Board of Selectmen on Feb. 24 would continue that activity. “We created accounts that will adequately address building preventative maintenance,” Pellegrini said. “If you ignore it, as in years past, it will only result in much more costly repairs down the line.”

The new budget also shows some reorganization, such as an IT budget, the expenses of which had previously been sporadically addressed as IT and computer issues arose.

Pellegrini said the Board of Selectmen is confident about the budget presented to the Board of Finance on Feb. 28. She called it “realistic and responsible budgeting.” In January, she said the Board of Selectmen would employ zero-base budgeting for the fiscal year beginning on July 1. The approach, it was hoped, would give the selectmen a clearer idea of what money is going to each line item. “We looked at every check that was written in the last 18 months to determine what is needed, and where it should be allocated,” Pellegrini said. The proposed total budget decreased by about $260,000 from last year. However, the “town side” budget increased $299,000, much of which is due to increases that are essentially out of the town’s control, she said.

Somers Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Marcotte explained that the Board of Finance has set meetings with the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education to discuss the two budgets that, together, comprise the Town of Somers budget. Once the discussions and negotiations are finished, the budget goes to a public hearing on April 26, followed by a town meeting scheduled for May 10. The town’s electorate has its say on the budget on May 24.

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