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Financiers sign off on $76.6M town spending for 2014-15

Updated 4:39 pm, Wednesday, March 19, 2014
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The Board of Finance has approved a $76,595,682 town budget for fiscal year 2014-15, $60,000 less than the revised budget amount presented Tuesday night by First Selectman Jim Marpe. That's a 0.63 percent increase over the current $76,117,323 budget.

At the beginning of the meeting, Marpe told the board he was able to trim $1,599,789 from his initial budget proposal of $78,490,350, presented he unveiled month -- a 3.1 percent increase over this year's $76,117,323 budget.

He said he was a able to reduce the requested amount after "rethinking elements of it."

The finance panel is scheduled to take up the larger share of overall spending proposed for the next fiscal year -- the $110.32 million education budget -- when it meets at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

The $60,000 cut was made by the finance panel in the Fire Department's "overhead and extra help" account. The reduction was proposed by finance member Tom Lasersohn, who initially proposed trimming the account by $75,000. However, that amount was amended after Marpe said $60,000 was "an amount we can live with."

Board member Brian Stern expressed concern that this reduction might cut into the Fire Department's educational programs.

"I don't want people to think we don't think preventing fires is important," Stern said.

Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury said he's spoken with the deputy fire chief and fire marshal about other ways to disseminate fire-safety messages to school children.

Line items in the town 2014-15 budget approved by the board include $5,712,012 for general government; $9,744,955 for the Police Department and $10,390,636 for the Fire Department (after the $60,000 cut).

The Department of Public Works budget was approved at $9,262,746, a reduction of $131,641, or a 1.4 percent decrease, from the current budget. That amount was saved as the result of contractual negotiations with the town's solid waste disposal provider, Marpe said Wednesday.

Marpe said the town budget "reflects the quality of life expected in Westport."