March 25, 2010

Vernon Connecticut 2010- 2011 Budget Article | ReminderNews

Article ReminderNews: "Vernon — 03/23/2010
Budget owes increase to healthcare"

We’re in a situation where there is going to be no more state money,” said Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy, as he began the presentation of his budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. “The state doesn’t have any money. They’re broke,” he said, at the Town Council meeting last Tuesday .

Click the thumbnails above to see the full size pictures.McCoy said the budget of $78.7 million has an increase of $787,000 from debt service due to bonding that was done in 2004 and 2005 for road and school building improvements.

An increase in health insurance premiums for all town and Board of Ed. employees adds about $2.29 million – most of the total increase of $2.66 million from the current year’s budget.
The increase is divided between the $229,000 for town operations and $1.7 million for the Board of Education.

“The budget that I’m presenting,” McCoy said, “keeps the same level of services to Vernon citizens and taxpayers that they’ve received over the last 10 years.”

McCoy said this year has been one of looking at ways of reducing spending without a reduction in services. The budget would seem to reflect a commitment to education.

“This year’s proposed budget supports good quality education for our children,” McCoy said, “with no pay-toplay programs, along with no cuts of extra-curricular activities. The budget requires no layoffs of town employees, no layoffs of teachers, and no layoffs of school administrators.”

Labor costs, which have been an issue of contention for critics of McCoy’s administration, are decreased overall. McCoy said they have been mitigated through several negotiations with employees , both union and non-union , over the past year.

The health insurance premiums from Aetna had been at a fixed rate until this year. After sending the plans out for bids, the average increase from insurance companies was about 47 percent.
“The lowest ones were about 31 percent ,” McCoy said. “I hate to say it was a successful negotiation when someone tells you it’s [still] going up 20 percent.”

McCoy said there are areas of the town budget that reflect investments that will save the town money in the long run. Recycling, and the new compacting system that reduces tipping fees for the town’s refuse are some examples. “The use of trucks with automatic arms will reduce labor costs and workers’ compensation costs, and speed up delivery and services,” he said, adding that the savings is already about $300,000.
Fiber-optic systems that connect town offices and emergency services are also reducing phone bills.

McCoy did not miss the opportunity to push again for an energy commission , which would save the town money with new, green technologies and grants that are available for them, and help attract new businesses to town.

“Most importantly,” McCoy said, “is retaining existing employers. There’s a heck of a lot more that goes on in this town than government. There’s a lot of people that are unemployed. We have a real problem.”

The grand list, which has only grown by .36 percent, is the big problem, the mayor said, adding that the efforts to market the community to developers and investors is very important.
“We need jobs in this community, and we need to grow our grand list,” he said, “Otherwise, we can’t provide the services anymore.”

The budget deliberations and will continue on March 24 and 25. The Board of Education is expected to present its itemized budget to the Town Council at the March 24 meeting. A public hearing will also take place at 10 a.m., Saturday, March 27.

Further deliberations will take place on March 31 and April 7. The final town meeting on the budget is April 27 at 7 p.m. in the Rockville High School auditorium .
The mayor’s budget message is available on the town’s Web site,

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