First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said the town must be very careful about how much it funds New Canaan public schools next year, as taxpayers already stand to face a steep rise for the fiscal year that follows.
Citing a proposed change to motor vehicle tax that could cost New Canaan more than $2 million in local taxes, as well as a state mandate to increase school funding each successive year, Mallozzi called the 2014-15 budget season “a recipe for disaster.”
“I’ve heard a lot about a perfect storm,” he told New Canaan Patch. “But I will tell you that the perfect storm coming that I see is not so much in this year, it’s in next year’s budget when we are faced with that major sea change in taxation and burden on top of the mandate to fund the school education for more or the loss of grants.”
The "major sea change" involves a shifting of taxpayer burden from homeowners with properties valued in the $4 million to $5 million range to a much larger group in the $1 million to $1.8 million range (see full comments in video).
Mallozzi's comments come as officials brace for an emotionally charged meeting Tuesday night, when residents will weigh in at a public hearing on Board of Finance's proposed budget for next year. The Board of Education has called for public support of its request to get the full, 5.7 percent year-over-year increase it needs to its operating budget (to about $78.8 million). The finance board in its proposal has reduced the district’s request by $2 million in operations (and $1 million to capital spending).
In presentations to the town, New Canaan Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mary Kolek has referred to this year's budget cycle and monies needed for next academic year as “a perfect storm,” since many of the increases to operations are built into contracts with district employees. (See attached March 4 letter from the Board of Education to district parents.)
The public hearing Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the New Canaan Nature Center.