Waterford Board of Finance holds final budget hearing Monday night –

Waterford — The Board of Finance will meet Monday at 7 p.m. in Town Hall to hold a public hearing and take final action on the town’s proposed $99 million budget for 2022-23.

No estimate is yet available for the budget’s impact on the tax rate. 

The board has spent the past three weeks listening to public comment and reviewing several departmental budgets. Following the board’s eighth and final budget hearing on Monday, the finance board is expected to send the proposed budget to the Representative Town Meeting which will review and approve a budget next month. 

So far, the Board of Finance has proposed no changes to the Board of Selectmen’s $47 million request for town operations and the Board of Education’s $52 million request.

Finance board member Bill Sheehan said the board may discuss changes to capital improvement spending and will quickly review all the departmental budgets one last time at Monday’s meeting.

Glenn Patterson, the board’s chairman, said in most cases, when the board reviewed individual town departments, the increases were relatively small. He said the selectmen’s request had an overall 1.7% increase and the school budget had a 2.9% increase from the current year’s budget. He added the increase in the school budget was low compared to neighboring towns such as East Lyme and Montville.

Last week, schools Superintendent  Tom Giard and school board Chair Pat Fedor explained the school district’s proposed $52.1 million. The increase in the school budget is offset by the reduction of nine positions in the district and the use of $732,000 in federal COVID-relief funds. At the March 23 meeting, the superintendent assured the board the job reductions were not the result of layoffs.

During the meeting, the finance board had many questions about the school budget but there was little discussion among members about the request. Patterson said the school board’s “well-detailed” budget package is the result of the school board’s many meetings and budget workshops.

“In what has been an extremely challenging two years, this budget will allow us to continue to meet the needs created by the pandemic,” Giard said Saturday in an email. “While this budget is above our ten-year average of 1.9%, this budget is fiscally responsible recognizing the current economic climate. Waterford is a town proud of its schools and this budget will help us continue our good work.”

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