Each year prior to the Ledyard Annual Town Meeting, the Town Council Chairman writes a cover letter to residents for delivery to the Town Clerk with the proposed budget. Although the Town Meeting and Referendum is still ahead of us, the hard work is now done. (Unless the budget is defeated and then we are back to work.) The Ledyard budget is a combination of many many hours of volunteer work. Despite this work, I have received emails from residents unhappy at the increase and from those unhappy with the one million dollar reduction to the Board of Education’s proposal. Even with this reduction, the BOE’s budget is $304,000 higher than a year ago. In addition, $200,000 was added to the Capital Budget for much needed Ledyard High School bathroom renovations. This budget increases the mil rate by 1.89 mils, complicated by our recent revaluation. It’s never easy to deliver news of a tax increase but the word from Hartford isn’t good and revenue is almost certain to go down. You will find more details in my letter below.
Dear Ledyard Resident:
The Town Council submits for your approval a proposed Fiscal Year 2016/2017 Budget in the amount of $53,838,545, comprised of a General Government Budget of $22,943,212 and a Board of Education Budget of $30,895,333. The Board of Education budget is $304,037 higher than the current Fiscal Year budget while the General Government budget is $87,469 lower, resulting in a total budget net increase of $216,568.
It should be noted that the General Government Budget of $22,943,212 includes approximately $6,000,000 of Board of Education related expenses comprised of Liability Insurance, Health Care, Workers Comp, Pension Obligations, School Nursing, and other in-kind services. Taking this into consideration, about 70% of the total budget is allocated for Board of Education expenses including in-kind services and 30% is allocated for General Government expenses. The General Government budget also includes $134,379 for half of an extra payroll period which occurs once every seven years.
The reductions to the General Government Budget were realized with decreases in debt service obligations, insurance premiums and reductions in operations as a result of the transition from a Resident State Trooper Program to an Independent Police Department. Other savings were found by adjusting replacement schedules of vehicles and equipment for Public Works and Emergency Services, cross training of employees and implementing software applications for efficiency.
The General Government’s budget maintains essential services to our citizens and continues to invest in technology. Highlights of the proposed budget include: (1) Continued shared resources between the General Government and Board of Education, (2) An additional Career Firefighter, (3) The addition of a part-time nurse for the Parks and Recreation Summer Program, (4) Advancement of on-line services including electronic public access to land records in the Town Clerk’s Office, on-line payments for property taxes and water services, document management system for the Police Department, on-line dog licensing, automated human resources timekeeping/payroll software and continued implementation and expansion of the PeopleGIS Land Use database/forms program reducing staff time spent on permit applications while providing online access for the public to submit, track, and receive permit notifications. This budget continues the use of the IQM2 media portal (OpenLedyard.com), improving communication with the public by streaming live and on-demand meetings, (5) Provides funding for current and future infrastructure and capital needs, (6) Continues Single Stream Recycling, which reduces tipping fees, that will provide direct savings in tax dollars, (7) Gales Ferry Landing (the former Gales Ferry School) continues to be financially self-sustaining as a business incubator with increased tenant occupancy generating sufficient revenue to pay for utilities, building maintenance and capital improvements and (8) Fire Hydrant testing and maintenance.
The General Government budget allocates $906,932 to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which includes $200,000 for the Ledyard High School Bathroom Improvements. This funding, combined with State and Federal grants, provides for a total CIP of $3.8 million allowing for critical road repairs/maintenance, streetscape improvements in Ledyard Center/Route 117 and sinking fund allocations for emergency services equipment, future vehicle purchases and technology enhancements.
Although Ledyard saw the largest commercial development in Southeastern Connecticut with the construction of Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods Casino, Ledyard also saw a 3.38% decrease in the Grand List with the 2015 Revaluation (total net Grand List $1,089,981,022) requiring a .61 mil rate increase for equalization. In addition, the State of Connecticut is now facing a $930+ million deficit in the current fiscal year and a $5 billion biennial budget deficit. This financial crisis has made the State Municipal Aid revenue to cities and towns unpredictable. Ledyard’s State Municipal Aid is projected to decrease in the areas of Education Cost Sharing (ECS), Transportation, Federal Public Law 874 (Impact Aid), and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). As a result, the Town Council anticipates that the proposed Fiscal Year 2016/2017 Budget will require an increase of 1.89 mils for a projected mil rate of 32.29.
In preparing this year’s budget, consideration was given to the future impact of the issuance of bonds for the following long-term projects: (1) Police Headquarters Facility Project approved on May 20, 2013. This project will be completed by Summer 2016 and a Ribbon Cutting is planned to take place during the 2016 Ledyard Fair, (2) School Consolidation/Improvement Projects approved on January 20, 2015 and (3) Waste Water Treatment Facility Upgrade approved on December 10, 2014. These projects are expected to be completed over the next few years with the financial impact to our debt service projected to peak at about $4.65 million in 2021.
Our special thanks to Finance Committee Chairman Fred Allyn, III, and members Tom Malone and Bill Saums for their long hours in working to complete this challenging budget. In addition, we thank the Mayor, the Superintendent of Schools and the Board of Education for their efforts as well as Marcia Hancock, Town Director of Finance, and Jason Lathrop, Board of Education Business Manager for their support.
We also thank our dedicated Town and Board of Education employees who continue to look for new opportunities to improve services and reduce costs for our residents. Special thanks to Town Council Clerk Roxanne Maher who works tirelessly year round but especially during budget season.
The Town Council would appreciate your attendance and participation at the Annual Town Meeting to be held at Ledyard High School on Monday, May 16 at 7:00 p.m. and during the budget referendum that will be held Tuesday, May 17 from 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Absentee ballots will be available at the Town Clerk's office. Pursuant to CGS 9-396c, eligible persons requesting an absentee ballot must apply in person at the Town Clerk's Office.
By Town Charter, if the budget referendum does not pass on May 17, 2016, a new budget will be presented at a second referendum two weeks later and if necessary, a third referendum two weeks after that. In the event all three referenda fail to pass a budget, the Town Council is required to adopt a Fiscal Year 2016/2017 Budget by June 27th.
We encourage you to contact your elected state officials to ensure that Ledyard continues to receive a fair share of state and federal funding in the coming fiscal year.
Representative Mike France: 860-842-1423/800-842-1423; E-Mail: Mike.France@cga.ct.gov
Representative John Scott: 860-240-8700/800-842-8267; E-Mail: John.Scott@housegop.ct.gov
Senator Catherine Osten: 860-240-0579/800-842-1420; E-Mail: Osten@senatedems.ct.gov
Thank you for your interest and participation in Ledyard’s budget process and for taking the time to vote.
Linda C. Davis
Linda Davis has been a licensed real estate agent in Ledyard CT for over 35 years. She has a long history of community service and currently serves as Chairman/Deputy Mayor of the Ledyard Town Council. Linda is the administer of the popular Ledyard Community Forum on Facebook and also teaches and speaks on technology, mostly for beginners. Linda can help with homes for sale in Ledyard as well as homes for sale in Eastern CT including, Groton, Mystic, Stonington, Norwich, Montville, New London, East Lyme, or Waterford.