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Weston Moves $56 Million Budget to Townwide Vote

WESTON, Conn. – A small turnout of 89 registered voters unanimously approved Weston's town and school spending plans after learning of a savings in health-care costs during the Annual Town Budget Meeting held Wednesday at Weston High School. The proposals now go to a townwide machine vote April 12.

Voters approved an $11.4 million town budget and a $45.5 million school budget, along with a $94,000 reduction in health-care costs. The combined $56,995,744 budget is an increase of 1.14 percent, or $645,191, over the current budget.

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said in her opening remarks that she would recommend a decrease of $93,950 in health-care costs from the town’s general administration budget. Thanks to the work of Tom Landry, the town administrator, and the Insurance Committee, Weston reduced its costs through a rebidding process, she said.

The reduction, Weinstein said, decreases the town operating budget from 2.01 percent to 1.17 percent and drops the proposed mill rate from 24.10 to 24.04 mills.

“The numbers came in a lot better than expected,” she said. “This makes me very happy, and I hope it makes you happy, too.”

Moderator Susan Moch presented each line item in the town and school budgets, which were unanimously approved by voters with little discussion.

Before voting on the school budget, resident Frank Billone said unlike past years, when he expressed concerns with increases, this year he is pleased with the job done by Superintendent Colleen Palmer and Board of Education Director of Finance and Operations Jo-Ann Keating. He fully supported the budget as presented.

Billone said he was encouraged to see this year’s school budget lower than all of the surrounding towns, which could increase housing values and reverse the forecasted decrease in enrollment.

“After attending the three budget workshops, where all of my questions were answered, I want to acknowledge the fine job the team did,” he said.

Palmer said the proposed $45,587,192 school budget, a 0.93 percent increase, or $420,854 over the current budget, is low because of the new teacher contract and decreasing enrollment. She said the main drivers in the capital plan are renovations to the pool and the library at the middle school.

Voters additionally approved a proposed debt service of $6,816,900. The school’s debt portion is $6,140,066, while the town’s portion is $676,834. Capital projects, which include building repairs, road paving, school renovations and maintenance, were also approved at a total of $1,401,783.

Rick Darling, town finance director, said the main drivers in the town and school operating budgets are salaries and health benefits for employees.

“Those are due to contractual obligations,” he said.

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