Residents who attended the town budget meeting on Monday, May 10 at The Pearson School.
Residents who attended the town budget meeting on Monday, May 10 at The Pearson School.
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WINSTED — A town budget referendum has been set for Saturday, May 29 at Pearson School from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Residents will be voting on whether or not to approve the town’s proposed budget for Fiscal 2021-2022.
The proposed budget is $34,891,000, an estimated $743,000 increase from this year’s town budget.
Despite the increase, if approved by voters the town’s mill rate will remain the same as this year’s mill rate at 33.54.
On Monday, May 10, approximately 35 residents attended the annual town budget meeting at Pearson School.
It was the first time a town budget meeting was held since 2019. Last year’s meeting and referendum were all canceled due to the Covid pandemic. By state mandate, the Board of Selectmen set the town’s Fiscal 2020-2021 budget.
The May 10 meeting was relatively brief compared to previous meetings, lasting at 30 minutes with no discussion from the audience and no motions to make any cuts to the proposed budget.
Town Manager Josh Kelly gave a presentation on the town side of the budget.
The municipal side of the budget is proposed to be set at $13,943,000, an estimated increase of $237,000 from this fiscal year.
Major components of the proposed increase include $108,000 in accrued vacation and sick time payouts related to anticipated retirements, $95,000 in annual salary increases for municipal employees, $95,000 in medical insurance cost increases, $42,000 in police and town pension plan contributions, and $36,000 to pay for a second full-time property assessor to replace a part-time assistant assessor.
“We are entering a revaluation year, and that means we will see a lot of different activities coming out of our assessment office that will require a second assessor,” Kelly said.
Kelly said that this fiscal year the town’s grand list has grown by 1.2 percent, approximately $8.5 million.
“What that means is that there has been more development, improvements, and increasing market value,” Kelly said. “All of this has contributed to the $8.5 million increase in the grand list value, which means that without raising our mill rate we can provide more.
Capital improvements budget
According to Kelly, the proposed capital improvement budget for this year is $1,786,000.
The proposed budget includes: $962,000 in road and infrastructure repairs, $338,000 for a Department of Public Works payloader ($63,000), a pickup truck ($30,000) and for multi-year financing for existing equipment ($245,000).
The budget also includes $174,000 for the Hinsdale School project, $100,000 for the fire truck savings fund, $90,000 for police vehicles, $45,000 for the October 2022 grand list revaluation savings fund, $40,000 for the Walker Field dugout, $25,000 for Soldiers’ Monument windows, and $12,000 for a new Senior Center van.
School budget presentation
The school side of the budget is proposed to be $20,948,000, an estimated $506,000 increase from this fiscal year.
In his presentation, Gilbert School Superintendent Anthony Serio presented a proposed budget for $7,843,928, an increase of $162,240 or 2.11 percent from this fiscal year.
The Gilbert School educates students from the Winchester School District who are in the seventh through twelfth grade.
Serio said that budget drivers for Fiscal 2021-2022 include the school being in the third year of a three-year teachers contract.
He added that other budget drivers include: medical insurance expenses projected to increase by 7.5 percent, an increase in state-mandated graduation requirements, an increase in costs for institutional and academic software by 1.62 percent, the addition of two academic support teachers for student assistance, and costs due to the Covid pandemic.
The proposed budget also includes $462,544 in facility improvements, a proposed $246,300 increase from the current fiscal year budget.
For the Winchester School District, Superintendent of Schools Melony Brady-Shanley presented the proposed Fiscal 2021-2022 school district budget.
The budget is proposed for $20,261,686, a $300,000 or 1.5 percent increase from this fiscal year.
The school district is scheduled to lose its Commissioner’s Network grant from the state, along with several state and local grants, which will mean the district will be losing out on $511,827 of funds.
For the school year 2021-2022, the district estimates that there will be a total of 962 students in the school district from Pre-Kindergarten to twelfth grade, this includes 539 students from Pre-Kindergarten to sixth grade and 423 students at The Gilbert School.
The projected total 2021-2022 enrollment is an increase of two students from this fiscal year.

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