Stewart Proposes Freeze on City Education Support, Increase in City Hall Spending

Republican Mayor Erin Stewart’s proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1st would freeze city support for New Britain’s schools while increasing overall city spending and pushing taxpayer debt into the future.

Stewart’s General Fund budget proposal would increase city General Fund spending by $2,167,486 to a total of $241,537,535. Funding for the New Britain school district would remain frozen at the current level $125,700,000.

Earlier this year, the Board of Education, in its first year under Republican leadership, requested what the school district said was the lowest requested increase in city school funding in many years. But Stewart’s proposed budget provides $1,066,706 less than what the school system had requested.

The combined expenses, under Stewart’s proposed budget, of the city’s General Fund, Water fund, Sewer fund, Stanley Golf Course fund and Fairview Cemetery fund, corrected for transfers between these special funds and the General Fund, would be $266,869,431 for the 2017-2018 budget year, $22,928,649 higher, under Stewart’s administration, than it was in fiscal year 2014. In that same time, Stewart’s budgets have increased city support for New Britain’s schools by $2,500,000.

Stewart touted her proposed budget for 2017-2018 as a “no tax increase” budget. The budget proposal, would maintain the 50.50 mill rate from last year. The current proposal would mean that property taxes (current taxes) under her administration will have increased by $19,231,280 since fiscal year 2014, a 19% increase.

In February, Stewart was criticized for borrowing $28 million in order to push payments on the city’s debt from the current year into the future. Her 2017-2018 budget proposal would reduce the city’s payments on its debts in the upcoming budget year by $5,941,294, the same amount that was predicted when the Republican-dominated City Council approved Stewart’s controversial $28 million in taxpayer borrowing.  Ald. Manny Sanchez (D-3) is asking questions about the city borrowing, and has submitted an official petition that there be a report to “the Common Council with the refunding efficiency on the most recent refunding transaction, as well as, all other refunding transactions since January 1, 2013.”

Stewart said that, “With this budget proposal, we are truly ‘Leading the Way’ in setting an example for other communities and for future budgets.”

A public hearing on Stewart’s proposal will be held on April 25 at 7:00 pm at Smalley Elementary School.