Winsted Town Seal
Winsted Town Seal

WINSTED — After a week of special Board of Selectmen and Board of Education meetings, the selectmen decided on Monday, April 19 on a proposed budget for Fiscal 2021-2022.
The major point of contention over the proposed budget was education funding.
Earlier this month, the school district, under Superintendent of Schools Melony Brady-Shanley, requested a $530,000 increase to its budget from this fiscal year.
However, now former Town Manager Robert Geiger proposed a budget that would have underfunded the school district’s budget request
At the April 19 meeting, the selectmen agreed to fund the school district’s proposed increase by increasing three budget lines.
According to Finance Director Bruce Stratford, in the proposed budget, the town has added $300,000 to the Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) line, which takes the line from $19,962,000 to $20,262,000.
The town support for education budget line item, originally set at $480,000, is now set to $686,000, with $121,000 from an unassigned fund balance added, along with $85,000 from the committed fund balance to education line item.
The school district’s budget, as proposed by the Board of Selectmen, is now set at $20,948,000, which is an increase of $506,000 from this fiscal year’s budget.
The final budget for Fiscal 2021-2022, as proposed by the Board of Selectmen, is $34,890,658, an estimated $742,658 increase from this fiscal year.
The mill rate as proposed is 33.584, which means that the rate if the proposed budget is approved by residents at a town referendum, it would remain flat for the sixth year in a row.
“While this is a zero mill increase, there is more spending in this budget, and that we acknowledge,” Mayor Candy Perez said towards the end of the selectmen’s meeting. “It fully funds the Board of Education request and it puts money towards our capital needs. But as a caution and also comes with a caveat, we are taking $852,000 from our savings account. $228,000 will go to the schools, $623,000 will go to capital. Next year, these reserves will not be available unless you want to go below the 16.7 percent recommended by our finance director. We will need to rely on grand list growth, so everybody should get going doing businesses and stuff. Or increase grant revenue, which we hope the state might send our way. And, hopefully not, a tax increase. The state and American Rescue [Plan] monies are still fluid at this point. We have put forth our best analysis on that. When the rules come out on May 11, which is after our town meeting, we hope to leverage that money to help taxpayers this year and next, with capital repairs at the very least.”
The annual budget town meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 10.
However, the location and time of the meeting are unknown as of press time.
As per the town’s charter, residents are allowed to propose and vote on cuts to the selectmen’s proposed budget.
The budget will then be voted on at a townwide budget referendum which will be scheduled at the town meeting.