The Town Council has an extensive discussion about the proposed Fiscal 2022 budget on Wednesday night. but no decisions were made about cuts, additions or other moves. The second -- and final -- public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, May 26.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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PUBLIC HEARING NO. 1 –
MOVING MIDDLETOWN FORWARD WITH THE BUDGET
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (MAY 20, 2021) – Town officials agreed that whatever happens with the proposed $75.9 million budget, it must move Middletown forward.
During a wide-ranging first pubic hearing Wednesday night from Town Hall, Town Council members discussed everything from funding for the schools to whether to create a new department to assist students as they move into the “real world” to whether cuts might be in order.
The council didn’t make any formal decisions on any additions or reductions to the proposed numbers, but council President Paul M. Rodrigues urged his colleagues to get their ideas together soon.
The second – and final – public hearing for residents and businesspeople to offer input on anything budget related is Wednesday, May 26 at 6 p.m. The council is expected to adopt the Fiscal 2022 budget on May 26 after the second public hearing. Technically, the council has until June 30 to finalize its budget for the upcoming 2021-2022 fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
To join that discussion, click on the link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84107501696 online. To participate on the phone, call (888) 475- 4499 or (877) 853- 5257. The ID number for the webinar is 841 0750 1696.
“It’s a public hearing and we want to hear from the public,” Rodrigues said.
Opening the hearing, Brown took the council – and the audience – through an overview of the proposed budget and what the numbers mean.
Using a slideshow presentation, Brown explained slight adjustments to the proposed Fiscal 2022 tax rate. According to the numbers put out tonight, the proposed residential tax rate is expected to be $12.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value if the proposed figures are okayed as is. On the commercial side, the proposed tax rate is expected to be $16.66 per $1,000 of assessed value.
On the sewer front, the new sewer rate is expected to be $16.89 per 1,000 gallons of use, or an 11-cent increase. The inflow and infiltration charge was slated to be $13.71 with the customer service charge of $38.57. All told, the average single-family user was expected to pay $821.19 in Fiscal 2022, or close to $50 more than the current bill.
Then, council Rodrigues opened the door to what things might look like if the town decided to make cuts to the 3 percent budget increase overall.
That sparked a lengthy conversation about what direction the town wanted to go, whether everyone was on board with a 3 percent hike or changes were needed.
Brown said 1 percent in the budget equaled about $170,000 in spending, revenues or a mix of both.
Then, the School Committee and education officials were invited to join in the discussion. Council members asked questions about whether the schools were creating a structural deficit, the per pupil cost for each student, expected enrollments, special education and other items.
Councilman Dennis Turano said he’d like to support for a new department to help students be successful in the real world once they leave Middletown High. Whether it’s onto college, into the military or into a career, Turano said the goal was to give everyone the support they needed to achieve.
In response, school officials said they supported any help they could get, but also were concerned about the potential duplication of services too.
“It all comes down to dollars and where do those dollars come from,” Rodrigues said.
“The goal is to help the existing programs to fill the gaps…” Councilwoman Terri Flynn said. “We want to help.”
To review the entire proposed budget, visit https://mdl.town/FY2022ProposedBudget online. For a high-level overview, check out https://mdl.town/HighLevel online for a review by the town administrator Brown.
Those documents and more about the proposed budget are available at “Middletown Shares” online. This includes about a dozen videos where department heads explain their proposed budgets and the necessity of those expenses. That site is accessible via the main page of the town’s website at MiddletownRI.com or by visiting https://mdl.town/Shares directly.