April 12, 2009


Reminder News

BY STEVE SMITH Staff Writer ssmith@remindernet .com
Vernon — 03/31/2009- Mayor Jason McCoy has proposed a budget totaling $76,089,866 for the 2009-2010 fiscal year–an increase of .85 percent over last year. The Town's tax rate is reduced by a little more than 6 percent.

The town side of the budget is $25,468,149, with $45,835,932 appropriated for the Board of Education.

“I think it’s a good budget,” McCoy said. “The big issue is that we are down in revenue.” He said adding decreases in non-tax revenue and the state legislative reductions to contributions are the biggest culprit. An estimated total of a $1.2 million decrease, including licenses and permits , records fees, and investment income , is expected. Also, town monies in banks have earned very little, as is true across the country.

McCoy said that the tax collection rate should remain around 98 percent, in spite of some residents being affected by layoffs and other economic factors, and the biggest difference is in motor vehicle taxes, which has been down.

Education Cost Sharing funds are also a concern. Previously, Governor M. Jodi Rell had proposed a decrease in the funding, but the governor’s latest proposal calls for the ECS money to remain at last year’s levels, although the state budget has yet to be finalized, and won’t be before the town’s budget is.

McCoy said Vernon plans for a decrease in that funding, to be safe. “We didn’t take risk factors on that,” he said, “because we didn’t think this was the appropriate year to do it. That’s always a problem. We took it as what we expect it to be.”

McCoy said the Town Council and his staff have worked to reduce the budget as much as possible.

“Tax rates are going down, but not as much as we would have liked,” he said.

In a prepared press release, McCoy wanted to reassure residents that, despite the slow national economy, Vernon “remains stable and affordable.”

The release also states that the budget was prepared with all town departments “understanding our economic challenge, and countering it with resourcefulness and innovation.”

“Our town department heads and I began to take apart the way we budgeted in the past. We went through our past expenditures... we negotiated new terms in our agreements for services, and products, working to lower costs for the essential goods and services that the town delivers to our citizens,” the statement read.

McCoy urges residents to participate in the budget process, particularly at the annual town meeting on April 28, at which a vote will finalize the budget. Anyone who owns property in town, or is a registered voter, will be eligible to vote at that meeting.

Before that meeting, a referendum is possible, by a petition of 200 or more signatures. “I invite everybody to come, ask questions, and participate,” McCoy said. “Give us comments or input. It’s what tells us how to handle things.”

The proposed budget is available on the Town of Vernon’s Web site, http://www.vernon-ct.gov/.


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