By Robert D. Utter
NORTH STONINGTON - It’s been going since December, an annual ritual that takes half of the year to complete. It involves scores of people and thousands of hours. And, because of our Town Meeting form of government, it falls on all voters, The People, to complete it.
Welcome to The Budget.
The Board of Finance started on Dec. 4th last year to come up with a schedule of 25 meetings and deadlines for the creation of the 2020-2021 town budget. Those don’t include the hundreds of meetings the town’s departments and agencies have completed to come up with their annual requests.
Already, the finance board and Board of Selectmen have met nearly every week this year as they request and collect the department requests. Those requests were all due by January 3rd.
Then the face-to-face process began. As departments and agencies present their requests to the joint boards, the finance board members and selectmen ask their preliminary questions and make their suggestions to the departments.
So far, the joint boards have heard from nearly everyone:
Department of Public Works
Economic Development Commission
Land use departments
The North Stonington Volunteer Fire Company
North Stonington Ambulance Association
and the Recreation Commission
All that’s left for preliminary presentations is the final piece, the big one. The Board of Education is scheduled to present its $14.45 million operating requests on Wednesday, Feb. 19th.
At its Feb. 12 meeting, the Board of Education voted to officially move their budget work to the Board of Finance.
Once the finance board has all the pieces, it only gives itself a little more than a month to look at the collection of pipe dreams from hopeful departments and agencies and build a single budget ready for presentation. On March 25, the finance board is scheduled to vote to pass their work along to The People for comment.
The public financial hearing is scheduled for April 6th (clear your calendar). Based on the comments (putting it lightly) from The People, the finance board will dig back into the numbers to come up with a budget they think will pass The People’s muster.
May 4th, The People will gather for the Annual Town Budget Meeting. The goal that night will be to get consensus on the numbers and approval for a full-day referendum on May 18 - The People’s time to say Yes, the finance board has done its job; or No, the finance board has more work to do.
With luck, the Yes votes will carry and the finance board can set the mill rate on May 20.
To understand what the mill rate is, click here.
The members of the Board of Finance are:
Daniel Spring, Republican, Chairman
Paul Simonds, Republican, Vice-Chairman
Anne Akin, Republican, Secretary/Alternate
Carolyn Howell, Unaffiliated, Member
Dan Smith, Republican, Member
Mustapha Ratib, Democrat, Member
Michael Anderson, Democrat, Member
Chris Hundt, Republican, Alternate
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