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Town Manager Predicts Minimal Revenue Increase for Tolland

Tolland will likely see a negligible increase in revenue this budget cycle, and the superintendent's proposed school district budget is calling for more than a $1 million increase.

The town council got an update Tuesday on the 2013-2014 budget cycle from Town Manager Steven Werbner, who said a "reasonable tax increase" would be necessary if town expenditures go up.

According to the budget memo provided by Werbner and Finance Director Lisa Hancock, Tolland could see next to no revenue increase this year.

"Tolland is no longer one of the fastest growing communities," Werbner said. He explained that the town's grand list growth has declined steadily in the last few years.

While the grand list is not yet finalized, Werbner said that it is estimated that it will go up only .27 percent this year, which amounts to around $105,000 in extra revenue for the Tolland budget.

In addition, Werbner said that he has heard that state aid to towns is on the table as the state budget is hammered out in Hartford. Tolland could lose its property tax relief grant, manufacturers equipment tax exemption and potentially, more than $1 million in aid to Tolland schools, Werbner said.

And with revenue potentially declining, Superintendent William Guzman has recommended a school district budget that calls for a 4.95 percent increase, equal to an increase of $1,768,071 compared to this year's budget.

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In his superintendent's message,

The school district's budget made up nearly 70 percent of the town's 2012-2013 budget.

Council member Sam Belsito challenged the council to figure out how to fund a zero percent tax increase budget without cutting programs.

"We have to find ways to save money and do things differently," Belsito said. "There's no way a lot of people in this town can afford a tax increase."

Other council members shared Belsito's enthusiasm for implementing efficiencies in the town's operations to save money and to keep expenditures at a minimum, although council members Josh Freeman and Vice-chairperson Rick Field said they think it is unlikely that a zero percent budget could be created without also affecting or cutting services.

Werbner suggested that the council meet with the Planning & Zoning Commission to discuss zoning regulations that could encourage "reasonable development in the community."

Werbner asked the council to start sending him their cost-saving ideas.

"We at the town side stand ready to look at any suggestions anybody has to make us more efficient," he said.

The Tolland 2013-2014 budget schedule is posted on Tolland Patch. The school board's next budget workshop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers.

More Council News

The council also approved the appropriation of nearly $The proposed security improvements are still being studied and drafted. The school board will submit a security plan to the council before the funds are used.

The council also approved a resolution allowing the town to enter into an agreement with Firematic Supply Company, Inc. of Rocky Hill to refurbish a Tolland fire truck.

The truck, purchased in 1993, needs repair and maintenance for the pump mechanism, radiator, brakes, transmission and lighting, according to Assistant Public Safety Director Doug Racicot. In addition to the necessary mechanical work, new lighting is needed to bring the truck up to NFPA standards and to also improve first responder safety on highway accident scenes by reducing the number of flashing lights and increasing reflective material.

"We're seeing that on the highway, not having as many flashing lights out makes our lives safer," Racicot said.

A total of $86,615 is already approved for this project in the 2011-2012 capital budget, according to the agenda.

The council meets next on Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Disgusted January 23, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Wait...Guzman said that one of the big reasons for driving up the budget is health insurance costs....NO NEED to worry ! ObamaCare to the rescue, right ? Pretty soon our health insurance costs will go way down...right ? Especially for us in the middle class...right ? NO WORRIES !
Steven Jones January 23, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Revenue is income that a company/organization 'receives' from its normal activities, usually from the sale and/or production of goods and services to customers. Whether you pay a fee at the library or a traffic ticket within Tolland, or when you pay the variety of property taxes, those taxes and fines are, in turn, utilized to provide a service. As noted, the school receives 70% of the budget. And schools provide a service (namely education, but also sports and other school-related services) to families that pay taxes/fees. But there is also the service of protection and rescue (police/firefighters), and non-school educational resources (the library), and finally, infrastructure (which encompasses roads, buildings, signs, etc.). No one is going to 'stop calling it revenue' because it is an applicable term, though not as purely applicable as it is to business or non-profit organizations. Nonetheless, the only two options to meet the organic rate of annual inflation is either increases in fines/taxes, or curtailing services. Even a 0% change in the tax rates would automatically warrant the increase of fines/penalties or reductions in spending. It may be marginal, but the council is likely to approach this knowing both sides will need to be fairly utilized and put forward to the people of Tolland. We should hope revenues do improve over the year, but expect that we must both fund what we as a community want, yet prioritize spending to meet a balanced budget scenario.
Tony Rogers January 23, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Totally unacceptable! It's not a complex analysis. (1) Taxes in Tolland are already much higher than they should be as a result or run-away spending on education. (2) In order to get taxes back to an acceptible level, Mr. Guzman and the other spendthrifts running the town should be compelled to work within their current budgets for five years. (3) The savings to offset inflation may come from decreasing non-essential expenditures such as sports programs. (Let those parents who want sports for their children PAY for the service at the Tolland sports facility.) (4) The taxpayers must take action by (a) contacting town hall to voice their demand for lower taxes. (b) Attending town meetings to speak out against extravigant spending and (c) voting no to any budget (and tax) increase for the next 60 months. Lastly, do not let the little clique called the Friends of Tolland Schools cloud your judgement, taxpayers. Their "informative evenings" are nothing more that a propaganda blitz pursuant to raising your taxes. Fight back! Google Tolland Taxpayers Association, join us and help put a stop the the extortion in this town.
Long time resident January 23, 2013 at 07:19 PM
When the town council allows the President of the Friends of Tolland Schools to have a seat at the table with them rather than in the audience with the rest of the citizenry, you know who they want to make happy. This is what happened last year and because they all "agreed" on what went out to the public, we were supposed to believe it was reasonable. This council is about nothing more than marketing decisions. "Selling" to us, to create a sense of confidence in their decisions, which is pretty much nothing more than the administration's decision. I remember when councilors actually opening had debates and disagreement at meetings, now they are, like the BOE, just a cheerleading squad.
Bob M. March 27, 2013 at 02:52 PM
No new Revenue (TAXES) this year. I will vote NO on any increase. How about some haircuts in salaries and increase deductibles in health care.

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