FAIRFIELD — A $5.6 million municipal budget proposal is starting to take shape as town officials start talks over a new spending plan that will eventually go before voters at the annual Town Meeting this spring.

In the next step of creating a formal budget, the town’s Budget Committee will convene for an organizational meeting Wednesday to select a chair and determine when they will meet again.

The Town Council recently met in a five-hour-long budget discussion on a Saturday, and Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said the budget committee will take a similar approach.

The committee’s first meeting this Wednesday will be held prior to the Council meeting. Flewelling said councilors will not likely discuss the budget any further at their meeting, and Wednesday will be the first time the committee has seen the budget. Flewelling said the committee’s longer workshop meeting, which will be attended by councilors and town department heads, is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 18, though it was not definitely set.

All told, the proposed budget stands at just over $10.8 million, which Flewelling said includes estimates for the school budget and county portions. She said they used estimates reflecting no changes in either of those budgets from the current fiscal year, with the school portion estimated at nearly $4.3 million and the county portion estimated at $911,747. Flewelling stressed those were just estimates, and they had no way of knowing yet what those numbers will actually be.

Without the school budget and county portion of the estimate, the municipal budget would stand at just over $5.6 million. The current municipal budget that was approved at last year’s annual Town Meeting is $5.5 million.

Flewelling said the revenue estimate is just under $2.7 million, meaning the remainder — less than $3 million — is what would have to be paid for through taxes on the municipal side.

The budget proposal by department heads that went before councilors at their Jan. 21 workshop was $10,858,438. After reviewing that proposal and making suggestions, which Flewelling said were minor, councilors then proposed a budget of $10,842,750 — a net decrease of $15,688.

From here, the Budget Committee will come up with their own recommendation, and both recommendations will go before the town administration. The town administration will decide which version of the budget proposal goes into the town report prior to the annual Town Meeting on May 8, and a town warrant can’t be produced until a budget proposal is selected.

The council’s recommended budget is an increase of $83,461 over the current budget. Flewelling said a majority of the increases are factors beyond the town’s control, such as higher insurance costs, employee wage increases, some new Police Department equipment and increased costs for utilities. There are no new town projects or initiatives adding to the estimated budget.

“Our budget was faced with increases in various places that were out of our hands,” she said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

filed under: