Farmington residents will have an opportunity to be heard and to vote on the 2012-13 budget at the Annual Town Meeting tonight in the Farmington High School auditorium at 7 p.m.
Presentations will first be made by the Town Council, town manager, the Board of Education and superintendent, followed by public comment and a vote. Residents may also make a motion to amend the budget, which also would be voted on by those eligible voters in attendance.
The total proposed general government budget is $90,335,142, representing a 3.1 percent increase over the previous year. It includes $24.7 million - representing a 2.28 percent spending hike - for town operations and $1.8 million for capital projects.
Town Council Chairman Jeff Hogan said the proposed 2012-13 budget more realistically budgets for problems the town is likely to encounter in the next year, such as equipment failures and building emergencies. In the past few years, he said, the town has not funded replacement or maintenance of older equipment and systems and has had to freeze operating budgets midway through the year to pay for emergencies.
"This is a good budget. This may be a worn out euphemism but there’s this notion that a good budget is one that everyone dislikes equally. Unfortunately we’re in tough economic times but people who live in the town of Farmington have an expectation of a high level of services and a certain level of quality of schools, as well as an expectation that the infrastructure of our buildings and roads will be kept up…" Hogan said, adding that the budget allows for an increased investment in the town's school system and its technology.
The Board of Education's proposed budget is $55.5 million, representing a 2.75 percent spending increase over last year.
The increase will allow the district to add the equivalent of 9.9 fulltime positions to prepare for mandated state curriculum changes to the science, math and core subjects. Technology improvements will allow the district to get ready for a 2014 mandate requiring students to take standardized tests like the Connecticut Mastery Tests online.
If approved at referendum May 3, the council’s proposed budget would increase the mill rate from 21.27 to 21.9, an increase of 2.95 percent. The impact for an average homeowner (as defined as someone owning a house valued at $258,899) would increase by $162.34.
Any eligible voter may make a motion to change the budget at tonight's Town Meeting — either by increasing or decreasing it. For a motion to change the budget to pass, at least 300 eligible voters must be present at the Town Meeting, with two-thirds of those in attendance voting in its favor.
If a quorum isn’t met, then no changes can be made to the proposed budget and it then proceeds to a machine referendum vote on May 3. If the budget is voted down at the referendum, the Town Council will reduce the budget and another referendum will be held.