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Weston Spending Plan Draws Fire

Weston budget talks became contentious Monday as the Board of Selectmen focused on police overtime and snow removal costs. First Selectman Gayle Weinstein presented her spending plan, which is $213,137 higher than the current budget.

"I think, historically, over the last three years you can see that we've been responsive to residents’ call for lower taxes," Weinstein said.

However, Weinstein's proposal was questioned by Selectman Dan Gilbert, who highlighted several items that did not reflect actual costs from the past three years.

"This is a good piece of work, but it's not as objective as it needs to be," Gilbert said. "It's low. It's much too low."

Gilbert's concerns were directed at police overtime, legal counsel and snow removal expenses. "When you look at the last three years, our budget isn't even close to actual costs," he said.

Selectman Dave Muller agreed, but noted that the past three years were "aberrations" and that he was "not prepared to overtax for the unknown. I don't see how we can in good faith do that."

Much of the police overtime is reimbursed by insurance, Chief John Troxell said. Weinstein added that the town also expects to receive Federal Emergency Management Agency money to reimburse recent storm costs.

Gilbert stood his ground. "If families are doing their budget, and they looked at the last three years [and saw numbers such as these], they wouldn't budget this amount."

Weinstein and Muller said department heads have a better understanding of what they need and their judgment should be trusted.

Weinstein is also proposing salary cuts in the land-use and building departments that would involve cutting several employees back to a four-day work week.

The board will continue to examine the budget before voting in March. The plan will then go the board of finance before the public votes in a town-wide referendum.

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