Will the third time be a charm for Canterbury budget?

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Canterbury - posted Mon., Jul. 29, 2013

Canterbury held a special town meeting on July 25 to discuss a proposed 2013-2014 budget of $14,401,868 that would give town residents a .3 mil increase. An original budget proposal calling for a 1.5 mil increase, and a subsequent proposal calling for a 1 mil increase were defeated in town referendums. This will be the town's third attempt since May to pass a budget.

The proposal put forward by the Board of Finance called for $3,114,494 for the general government budget and $11,287,374 for the education budget.

Before discussion began, resident Arthur LeBeau moved to have the meeting adjourned until First Selectman Brian Sears could be present. “He ought to be here to answer our questions,” LeBeau said.

One of LeBeau's concerns centered on cuts to Canterbury seniors. The budget for the municipal agent for senior activities was cut from $5,000 to $3,500, and $1,000 was cut from a senior citizen expense account. “Most seniors have paid taxes their whole lives,” LeBeau said. “They're still paying them. It's the wrong way to go.”

LeBeau's comments hit a nerve with Neil Dupont. “There are plenty of things that people don't like, and I understand that,” Dupont said. “That's part of the job. You can't please everyone. But he [Sears] is not doing it the way he should.”

Sears maintained that the proposed budget is fair. “The economic reality is that we had to make cuts somewhere,” he said. “I tried to be fair and cut across the board.” He said the $1,000 cut would impact a once-a-year dinner a private senior citizens group held.

Canterbury has not had a mil increase in five years. “I think we're the only town in the state that's maintained services without a tax increase in five years,” Sears said. “The 1 mil increase to me was the magic button. That was the budget that would have kept everything the way it was.”

Residents will go to the polls on July 31 to vote in a referendum.

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