The Stratford Town Council is holding its annual public hearings on the Town Budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 tonight and tomorrow at Stratford High and Bunnell High Schools respectively. The hearing will be gaveled in at 7 pm, and residents are encouraged to sign in to speak about their concerns about the Stratford Budget. The Town Council ultimately decides the budget.
The Town Budget originates at Town Hall with the Mayor's staff meeting with departments to determine what the budgetary needs, restraints and wish lists items are. Simultaneously, the Board of Education are putting together their budget for the next fiscal year, where the Council votes on final authorization of the Board of Education budget The Board of Education may spend its final approved allocation anyway it deems necessary.
Once a budget is submitted to the Stratford Town Council, Councilmembers vet and negotiate the overall budget with the Mayor's office and Board of Education on the final appropriations. By state law, the Board of Education is separated from the municipal budget, to place a check and balance on the budgetary process.
When the Council has a near final budget number, it will refer an ordinance to the Ordinance Committee where it will refer a revised budget to back to the Town Council. Once referred to the Council, the budget is subject to its final vote. Any additional expenditures outside of the final allocation will need further Council approval.
The currently proposed budget for 2014-2015 is 36.62 mills. A mill is equal to $1 of taxes for every $1,000 assessed property value. A current Mill is roughly $4.5 million dollars, making the annual 2014-2015 operating budget over $204 million.
Many of the budget increases are due to pension obligations, bond payment and interests, and salary increases that are often mandated by state and union contracts. A final budget must be adopted before the end of the fiscal year in June.