WESTPORT, Conn. — There’s good news for Westport taxpayers: The town’s operating budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year is on track to increase by less than 1 percent over the current year’s spending.
The Board of Finance on Tuesday night unanimously signed off on a $76,595,682 spending plan for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1. The amount is $60,000 less than the $76.65 million revised budget requested by First Selectman Jim Marpe— which, if approved, would have meant a 0.71 percent increase over the current year.
The $60,000 reduction— the only cut made by the board —was made to the fire department’s requested budget of $10,450,636.
“I think there are some elements of the fire department budget where it includes like to have things as opposed to must have things,” board member Tom Lasersohn said.
Specifically, Lasersohn pointed out overtime for things like school visits and open houses, and recommended cutting the department’s budget by $75,000. His motion was backed by board member Janis Collins, who echoed his concerns. The cut was amended to $60,000 after Marpe and Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury said it was an acceptable reduction.
Marpe, who took office in November, made the finance board’s job a little easier by reducing his original budget request by more than $1.59 million before Tuesday’s presentation. At the March 5 Board of Finance meeting, he requested a town operating budget of $78.3 million.
Following the meeting, however, Marpe said he worked with town Finance Director Gary Conrad and department heads to revise the request based on comments and feedback from the board.
“I’m pleased we had been able to present reductions from my earlier budget presentation,” Marpe said. “My thanks to our department heads who worked to develop a conservative, responsible budget that reflects the economic realities of our citizens as well as the reality of our town’s operating cost. I also believe this budget supports the ongoing quality of life that we’ve come to expect in Westport.”
The finance board is scheduled to vote on the Board of Education’s requested $110.3 million budget Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium, 110 Myrtle Ave.