ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday approved a proposed $6,978,105 town government budget for 2013-2014, a total that represents a $124,465, or 1.82 percent, increase over the current town government appropriation.
Selectmen prepared the spending plan over three budget workshop meetings in February, endorsing only minor changes after discussion Wednesday, including a $3,000 reduction from the requests of several regional service agencies. The budget plan was approved on a unanimous vote, with Republican Selectman Joel Marzi joining Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman and Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby in supporting the budget proposal.
The budget includes a 2.5 percent wage or salary increase for all non-union town employees, including the elected positions of tax collector and town clerk. The selectman are taking no pay increase in the budget, with the salary for first selectman remaining at $76,271, and the stipends for the two selectmen set at $4,314 each.
The budget includes some changes, with $12,823 in new spending, for the town treasurer/finance office. Town Treasurer Robert Dixon, a Republican who has held the job since 2002, is not seeking a new term in the November town election. In anticipation that a newly elected treasurer would lack the experience of Dixon, the salary for the elected position is being reduced from $25,000 to $10,000. Finance Director Kelly Sterner would receive the general pay increase plus three additional hours per week, with funding also included for an assistant finance director position. The total appropriation for the treasurer/finance office would increase from the current $139,532 to $152,355.
The appropriation for the volunteer fire department is set at $307,700, with an appropriation of $321,250 for the town police department that now includes three full-time officers and one part-time officer. There is also a $113,304 appropriation for the resident state trooper.
The budget includes $372,000 for the town’s two libraries, including $270,000 for the Essex Library and $102,000 for the Ivoryton Library. Essex Library is receiving an additional $5,000, with an additional $2,000 for Ivoryton Library.
The budget includes $423,800 for capital expenditures and sinking funds, including $130,000 for a fire department sinking fund, $30,000 for the parks and recreation sinking fund, $75,000 for road reconstruction, $25,000 for sidewalk improvements, and $51,800 for capital equipment leases. With a refinancing of municipal debt that is now in progress, interest expenses in 2013-2014 are expected to decrease by $125,000.
The board of finance is expected to review the town government budget endorsed by the selectmen at a March 28 meeting. The town government budget is combined with the Essex Elementary School budget and the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget to establish a total spending package for 2023-2014. The annual budget hearing, for discussion of the town government and elementary school budgets, is set for Monday April 22. The proposed total spending package goes to the voters in May, either at the annual budget meeting ion May 13, or possibly to a referendum vote later in May.