Winsted Town Seal
Winsted Town Seal

WINSTED — Town Manager Robert Geiger has proposed a budget for Fiscal 2021-2022 that includes up to $550,000 in higher property taxes, and will, if approved, give the town its first mill rate increase in five years.
Geiger submitted his proposed budget to the town on Monday, March 15.
For the Fiscal 2021-2022 budget, Geiger is proposing a total budget of $34,804,278, along with a mill rate increase to 33.94.
The budget for the Fiscal year 2020-2021, which was approved by the Board of Selectmen and not residents due to the pandemic, was $34,228,000.
“The annual survey conducted for INFORM CT again found the most important factor when choosing a town in which to live is property taxes, followed closely by the quality of the school system,” Geiger wrote in his forward to the proposed budget. “This past year, our school Superintendent Melony Brady-Shanley has led her staff [in a] successful implementation of progress for our town. She is positioned to continue that path of success. The FY22 General Fund budget I am proposing increased expenditures by $656,000 over the FY21 budget adopted by the Board of Selectmen last year.”
Geiger notes that there are several major increases in expenses that are forecasted for the next fiscal year.
The highest expense increase is $250,000 in the Town Support for Education line item to help defray the increase of educational costs.
The next highest expense is $108,000 in Deferred Charges to cover accrued vacation and sick time payouts related to expected retirements of various town employees.
Geiger forecasts that in the next fiscal year there will be $95,000 in personnel costs to absorb a two percent increase in wages and a higher minimum wage.
The state’s minimum wage is scheduled to be increased to $13 an hour on August 1.
Geiger also forecasts a $90,000 increase in the Fringe Benefits line item across various departments due to higher medical insurance fees, and $42,000 in higher pension and retirement benefits.
To cover the higher expenditures, Geiger is proposing: $250,000 in higher property taxes due to a $9 million increase in the town’s Grand List, $300,000 in higher property taxes which will be obtained from a mill rate increase of 0.4 mills, and $100,000 drawn from the town’s General Fund Balance.
Educational budget shortfall
As listed in Geiger’s budget proposal, the school district requested $20,492,843 for Fiscal 2021-2022.
However, Geiger is proposing to fund the district at $19,961,686, which is a shortfall of $531,157.
At a presentation of the school district’s proposed budget on Feb. 18, Superintendent of Schools Melony Brady-Shanley pointed out that, over three fiscal years, the school district’s budget has increased by 1.22 percent.
“We cannot afford another year without an increase,” Brady-Shanley said. “We are facing nine straight years without a budgetary increase. We have hit that point where we can no longer sustain that.”
The school district is scheduled to have a budget hearing at Pearson Middle School on Monday, March 29. However, the time for the hearing is not listed on the town’s website.
Meanwhile, the town is scheduled to get an estimated $1.05 million in aid, along with $1.745 million in aid for the school district from the federal American Rescue Plan.
As discussed at the selectmen’s meeting on March 15, it is not known if both the town and school district will be getting the full amount or what conditions will be placed on how the funds will be spent.