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Finally, RTM Approves Budget

Four days of budget debates concluded Monday, with little change from the totals originally proposed. Combined, the town and Board of Education will spend $173,726,408 in the next fiscal year, just $188,540 more than the amount recommended by the Board of Finance.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff wanted $1.23 million restored to various town departments. The Representative Town Meeting denied most of those requests.

Finance Director John Kondub lost his case for restoring $200,000 to the fund for liability insurance payments. His goal was to maintain a safety-net level of funding called a risk corridor. Selectman Gavin Anderson said that, in 20 years, the town has never come close to breaching the $6 million in claims the additional money would protect against. If the town lost enough lawsuits to go over that limit, the general fund would cover the discrepancy, he said.

The RTM did “feather” its own nest, as some members put it, by agreeing to pay $7,540 for more detailed meeting notes. The state does not consider Westport's digital or audio recordings as permanent records. Only print or microfilm count. The current, written minutes give only a rudimentary sense of the proceedings. For next year, the town will hire someone to transcribe the tapes. “If you don’t record the present, the past will be lost,” RTM member Dick Lowenstein said.

Two departments--tax and conservation--gained enough support on the RTM to have its requests for increases reevaluated. For the tax assessor, nothing changed. However, Conservation Director Alicia Mozian won $30,000 to maintain a staff position in her office.

The town will set the mil rate later this month. Property taxes are paid quarterly on the first days of July, October, January and April. Any amount levied for less than $100 is due on July 1.

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