Westport RTM panel backs restoring $220K to budget
As deliberations over next year's municipal and education budgets for 2011-12 near conclusion, the Representative Town Meeting's Finance Committee voted Wednesday night to recommend restoring $220,000 of the approximately $340,000 that the Board of Finance cut from the proposed $67 million municipal budget.
The committee backed First Selectman Gordon Joseloff's recommendation to restore funds for several departments. It recommended re-allocating $75,000 to the Finance Department, $50,000 to the Personnel Department, $25,000 to the Information Technology Office and $70,000 for the Parks and Recreation Department.
"Nobody wants to cut government back, and nobody wants to raise taxes," said committee member Jeff Wieser. "But we've got to do one or the other. The question is: Where is the line?"
Siding with Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon and Board of Education Chairman Don O'Day, the committee did not recommend restoring any of the $250,000 that the finance board cut from the $98 million education budget.
The municipal and education budgets will head to the full RTM next week. The Finance Committee's restoration recommendations will require a 70 percent vote from the full RTM to gain approval. The RTM can also vote to cut from the two budgets.
Wieser predicted that the full RTM would likely follow the Board of Finance by voting for a relatively austere town budget in comparison to past years.
"We have so many fixed costs that we can only deal with over time that the short-term pain is hard to avoid," he said.
The full RTM will begin its review of the 2011-12 municipal and education budgets Monday at a public hearing that starts 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.