Third time’s the charm for town budget?

Council votes 6-2 to approve $217.1-million plan; another veto looms

10th District Councilman Tina Manus, right, raises her hand to speak during Thursday’s special council meeting. — Melvin Mason photo

For the third time, the Stratford Town Council has passed a budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

This one, though, comes with a slight tax increase as the Group of Six council members previously opposed to any tax hike decided to give in a little.

After more than two hours of talk, the town’s top board voted 6-2 on Thursday to pass a $217.1-million spending plan. The vote came after a $219 million proposal from Mayor John Harkins was amended with $3.2 million in reductions offered by 5th District Councilman Greg Cann.

The approved spending plan includes a 2.35% increase for the Board of Education’s $106.7-million outlay for the 2016-17 fiscal year, roughly $109 million.

The council also voted to increase the tax rate to 39.20 mills, up from the last fiscal year’s rate of 38.99.

The six council members who called the meeting — 2nd District Councilman Scott Farrington-Posner, 3rd District Councilman Wali Kaddem, Cann, 6th District Councilman and Majority Leader Philip Young, 7th District Councilman Marianne “Mitzi” Antezzo, and 10th District Councilman Tina Manus — indicated they were willing to compromise and said they’d be willing to offer an increase above the previously approved plans.

However, it wasn’t totally harmonious. Council Chairman Beth Daponte and Council Minority Leader Vincent Chase voted against the plan. Daponte said the Harkins administration should have a chance to review it before it was voted on. Among her biggest concern was that Chief Administrative Officer Chris Tymniak and Finance Director Jay Wahlberg had not  reviewed it.

Chase said he wanted the council to have more budget workshops to review the plan, something Antezzo also advocated for.

Harkins and other town officials were not on hand for the meeting. Prior to the meeting, Harkins’ chief of staff Marc Dillon said the councilors did not ask Harkins about if he would be able to attend. Harkins was out of town during the special meeting.

Fourth District Councilman David Harden and 9th District Councilman Alan Llewelyn were also not available to attend.

Even with a plan passed, the prospect of a veto remains as seven yes votes were needed to make it veto-proof. Harkins has up to 14 days to decide on if he will veto the plan.

Stay with The Stratford Star for more information on this story.

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Editor for the Stratford Star. Former reporter for the Darien Times.

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  • Derek Adams

    Oh, yes, let’s make sure Tymniak reviews it so he can change his numbers — again!

  • Thayer

    The six caved !!!!!

  • Alta Vista

    One is not surprised to learn that our Mayor is ‘out of town’ while the business of the people who elected him is being done. nnFrom what’s been reported the only conclusion you can draw is a total collapse of leadership, communication and consensus building from the Mayor’s office.nnOne could decide that the Mayor lacks basic political people skills. The crisis over the town’s current budget would never have happened if our Mayor was more engaged in the process. nnThe Mayor and the Town Council are not litigants in a trial, they should not be adversaries. But a refusal to communicate or show any co-operation whatsoever has put us here. nnThere has been no skill, talent or finesse displayed by our Mayor or the Town Council Chairperson: it’s their way or the highway. What a sad legacy our Mayor leaves behind as he finishes his term of office. nnAnd his record on economic development, an effort that might help offset continual tax increases? Fast food franchises and close to 1,000 more apartments in development through out town. nnThese past 8 years have not been good ones for Stratford. The question remains: can we recover?

    • Thayer

      The town is changing right before our eyes, yet the Mayor and his administration are blind to it. I’m serious when I say our town is headed in the wrong direction and everything needs to change…. From municipal budget,BOE to the towns obligations. The bleeding of the taxpayer has to end. We need some new blood with fresh ideas for our town. We just can not sustain the path we are on.

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