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By Shirley Murtha
Approximately 60 residents attended the April 13 public hearing where the boards of selectmen and education presented their 2015–2016 budgets for questions and comments. Board of Finance Chairman Mike Guarco opened the meeting with an overview of the town charter that spells out the hearing and the subsequent voting procedure. First Selectman Scott Kuhnly and Board of Education Chairman Ron Walther presented details of their respective budgets. The BOS Municipal Services budget presented at the meeting was $15,194,903 including debt service. The BOE budget of $28,718,507 million represents a 2.39 percent increase over the previous year. The total budget of $43,913,410 million would require a 1.97 percent increase in the mill rate.
Kuhnly described how, in formulating each new budget, several goals are paramount. First, the town must provide funds for state-mandated services, after which the debt obligations of the town must be met. As always, Granby tries to maintain essential town services that are already in place, and to maintain its capital assets for both the selectmen and educational components. Finally, an attempt is made to anticipate future needs.
Walther pointed out how the FY16 education budget expands world language instruction to grades K-1, expands services for the highest achieving students to grade 4, supports STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math) at the secondary schools, addresses pre-school program availability for students with special needs, advances one-to-one computing in grades 11-12, and provides professional development for staff supporting the implementation of Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluation process.
A few people asked for clarifications, had questions or made comments when the presentations were completed. Worry about increasing debt service and determining ways to increase revenue were among the topics mentioned. The majority of speakers commended the boards for the time and effort that goes into the process.
Following the public hearing, the BOF met to consider whether any of the public input would necessitate any changes in the budgets. Board members voted send the budget to referendum as presented. Machine voting will take place Monday, April 27 at the town hall meeting room from noon to 8 p.m.
A complete overview of the budget process and the budget numbers and breakdowns is available in the Granby Drummer FY16 Budget Issue available at town libraries, town offices and the Drummer office.