ENFIELD TOWN COUNCIL
THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2012
The Enfield Town Council held a Community Conversation at Henry Barnard School, 27 Shaker Road, Enfield, Connecticut on Thursday, April 5, 2012. Mayor Kaupin called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.
Present from the Enfield Town Council were Councilmen Arnone, Kaupin, Kienzler, Mangini, Nelson and Stokes. Councilman Lee entered at 7:20 p.m. Councilmen Bosco, Crowley, Edgar and Hall were absent. Also present were Town Manager, Matthew Coppler; Assistant Town Manager, Daniel Vindigni; Town Clerk, Suzanne Olechnicki; Director of Economic Development, Ray Warren; Director of Finance, Lynn Nenni; Chief of Police, Carl Sferrazza
Present from the Enfield Board of Education were Superintendent of Schools, Dr. John Gallacher; Chairman of the Board of Education, Timothy Neville; Board Member, Joyce Hall, and Business Manager, Chris Chemerka.
PRESENTATION OF THE PROPOSED 2013 BUDGET
Mr. Coppler started this budget process began in November at which time Town departments were asked to submit budgets with no more than a 1% increase. He noted for the most part, departments came in at 1% or below.
He explained the purpose of this Community Conversation is to get feedback from the community about the upcoming budget. He informed the public that there will be a Budget Hearing on April 25th at 7:00 p.m. at Enfield High School. He noted the budget has to be adopted no later than May 18th.
He presented the budget as follows:
- Maintain existing levels of municipal services
- Provide highest level of public safety services to the community
- Reduce the impact of the increased cost for services on residents
- Meet financial requirements to prepare the Town for future needs
Revenue Factors Affecting the 2013 Budget
- State of Connecticut’s Budget – the Town has gained $525,786 from the State of Connecticut compared to last year. (The majority of that increase is from the ECS for the school system.)
- Storm Alfred resulted in a reduction in the General Fund Undesignated Fund Balance by $1.45 million dollars. This puts Enfield in jeopardy of falling below the 10% threshold for Undesignated Fund Balance. This resulted in having to reduce the amount usually taken from the General Fund to balance the budget each year, therefore, only $1.6 million dollars will be used to balance the 2013 budget.
Expenditure Factors Affecting the 2013 Budget
- Debt service costs decreased by $800,000
- Decrease in cost of municipal solid waste disposal in November (drops from $69/ton to $58.75/ton)
- Increase in health insurance costs expected to be between 3% to 6%
- Workers’ Compensation Cost increase by 15% (approximately $200,000)
Mr. Coppler displayed the following graphs:
- General Fund revenues vs expenditures from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal year 2013
- Intergovernmental revenues from 2006 to 2013
He stated the total budget is $115,608,244, and the breakdown is $63,141,356 for the Board of Education and $52,466,888 for the Town.
He listed the General Fund expenditures by department as follows:
- Board of Education - $63,141,355
- General Government - $21,012,855
- Public Works - $16,546,824
- Public Safety - $12,029,211
- Library - $1,615,886
- Development Services - $1,262,082
He listed Capital Projects for 2013 as follows:
- Replacement of police cruisers
- Four large trucks for DPW
- Radio system lease payment and equipment purchase
- Road construction and maintenance
- School and Town facility improvements
Mr. Coppler displayed graphs illustrating the following:
- Mill rate trend between 2000 and 2013
- The 2012 vs 2013 tax burden
- Area town comparisons for 2011
- General Fund unreserved balance between 2005 and 2012
At the conclusion of the Town Manager’s budget presentation, Mayor Kaupin invited comments from the public.
Sandy Donelan, 12 Circle Drive
Stated she cares deeply about education, and she would like to fund education as much as possible.
Gina Sullivan, 11 Spier Avenue
Urged the Town Council to support education.
Joyce Hall questioned what the Town of Enfield spent on outside contracted services as a result of staff layoff. Mr. Coppler noted those layoffs happened two years ago, and they are still within their budget. Mayor Kaupin added those layoffs involved the engineering department, and that is the only area where they have significant contracted services.
Joyce Hall questioned what Storm Alfred’s expenses encompass, and Mr. Coppler responded just the clean-up.
Joyce Hall questioned whether the Town considered joining the State healthcare program, and Mr. Coppler stated they looked into this two years ago and learned it’s more expensive, and they don’t insure their pool fully.
Mr. Neville pointed out the Board of Education had four years with even budgets, and he’s very concerned cutbacks over the four years are resulting in the school system losing ground. He stated they knew there was a $1.3 million dollar hole in the budget. He noted the previous Board of Education and Town Council set aside $425,000 to take care of that hole.
Mr. Neville stated the school system isn’t fairing well compared to other districts, and he feels Enfield is at a critical point. He noted they cannot continue cutting staff and resources. He stated even in this economy, they have to do something, and the Board of Education is asking for this modest increase.
Councilman Nelson agreed something has to be done, and he feels they have to ask the staff to chip in. He noted Enfield has some of the highest paid teachers in Connecticut. He stated they have to work together to see if they can do better with less.
Councilman Mangini stated she does want to support the education system and fund what they’re requesting. She noted they can’t continue not providing the tools necessary for a good education system. She stated Social Services and the Public Works Department on the Town side also have needs that have to be met. She noted when the Town Council begins deliberations, she will look seriously at the budget this year to see where the needs are on the Board and Town side. She acknowledged the economy is difficult, however, they must move forward.
Sue Braun, 17 Light Street
Stated education has taken a hit every single year. She noted without staff there’s no educational system. She noted a good educational system will cut down on the need for more police officers and will keep well educated people in Enfield. She noted well educated people earn more money and build bigger homes. She went on to note education has been cut to the quick. She pointed out there are no provisions for highly gifted students.
Councilman Kienzler stated most of the money spent on education goes towards salaries and benefits for the teachers. He noted 85% goes to teachers and 15% goes to the students. He pointed out almost 200 teachers are earning over $80,000 per year, and this doesn’t include benefits. He stated he’d like to see more money going toward the children.
Councilman Arnone stated education is a service industry. He noted teachers hold Master’s degrees, and those degrees demand that money in the private and public sector. He pointed out those salaries are negotiated. He added he’s tired of the teacher bashing.
Mr. Neville stated everyone agrees something has to be done for education. He pointed out salaries have already been negotiated, and the vast majority of unions made concessions. He stated his belief this isn’t the place for discussing salaries, but rather that takes place during negotiations.
Mr. Neville stated the Board of Education cut 96 positions and approximately 70% of those were teachers. He stated his belief the school system has been doing its part.
He went on to state he does not want to increase class sizes or decrease programs. He noted people may be concerned about businesses leaving Enfield, but without a good educational system, parents will start leaving Enfield.
Councilman Mangini stated she is very disturbed about the direction this conversation is going with respect to education. She noted everyone she knows supports funding education.
Sue Braun, 17 Light Street
Stated she was shocked to learn that budget cuts resulted in elementary schools going without a librarian for four months. She went on to state her belief teachers earn every penny as teachers.
Mr. Neville pointed out the climate in the classroom is much more different than it was years ago. He noted teachers put up with much more than they did in the past. He stated the types of children they’re dealing with now are different, and those children have different needs.
Mr. Neville stated the Board of Education is not requesting things they do not need. He stated he does not believe teachers’ salaries should be the lynch pin upon how they judge this budget.
Councilman Nelson stated he refuses to lay off personnel from DPW or Social Services so that they can give more funding to the school system. He noted once that money is signed over to the school system, they are going to do what they want. He stated they have to look at the whole picture.
Councilman Arnone stated high salaries don’t necessarily result in high test scores. He pointed out the make-up of a community has to be considered.
Gina Sullivan, 11 Spier Avenue
Stated she has not had a salary increase in four years, and her husband was laid off from his job. She stated her belief “taking a hit” should be a global thing until things turnaround.
Councilman Kienzler stated he wants more money for the students. He stated he wants teachers to go to the union and ask what they can do to help get through this. He noted in the past unions have made concessions, and he would like this union to do the same.
Mayor Kaupin stated it’s a hard stretch to ask for union concessions in April, and such a process needs to be started much earlier.
Mr. Coppler stated a couple years ago, the Town had a two and a half month negotiation process. He noted the other option would have been a significant layoff.
Sandy Donelan, 12 Circle Drive
Noted if they get very strident about teachers’ salaries, it can’t help but result in poor morale. She questioned why this profession is constantly criticized. She urged the Town to think about the message being sent to the teachers. She pointed out teachers work very hard, and it saddens her that society isn’t valuing education.
Councilman Nelson stated if staff agreed to forego a 2% increase, that money could be put toward the students. He added everyone works hard.
Joyce Hall stated every single one of their contract unionized employees had at least one year of a hard freeze, or a zero percent increase. She noted this applied to non-certified office staff, Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent and other administrators. She pointed out everyone has done something.
As no one else wished to speak, Mayor Kaupin ended the Community Conversation at 8:18 p.m.