Selectmen Begin Examination Of Proposed $53.6 Million Town Budget

February 1, 2024 0 By JohnValbyNation

DARIEN, CT — Budget season in Darien has kicked into full gear this week, with the Board of Selectmen beginning their examination of the proposed town spending plan.

Town Administrator Kate Buch reviewed the proposed 2024-2025 town budget on Jan. 29, which is $53.6 million, up from a little over $51 million in the current year, or about a 5 percent increase. The proposed school budget is $121.5 million.

“It’s high, higher than I would like, but I believe the areas that we’re proposing new spending are necessary to meet the demands of the public, the demands of legislation that we have to address, good government and some of it is decisions we’ve made in prior years,” Buch said during the Board of Selectmen meeting, which was held at town hall and broadcast on Darien TV79.

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There is a 3.35 percent reduction in the debt service from the current budget and a 4.16 percent increase in library operations. Buch said a 16.75 percent increase in risk management and employee benefits is “one of the things driving up that overall cost.”

Buch went over some highlights in the spending plan.

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Last year, the Darien Police Department requested two new hires for the first time in decades. One officer was approved, the 52nd in the department, and now police are requesting a 53rd officer.

Buch noted that there are significant rate increases anticipated for utilities in town. The solid waste disposal contract is also under negotiation, another factor causing a “significant increase in the budget,” Buch said.

Additionally, there are 26.1 pay periods in the budget versus 26 last year, which comes at a cost of $63,000.

There is $25,000 in the Human Resources budget to hire a consultant to conduct a search for a new town administrator. Buch said she is planning on retiring in September 2025.

Increased funding is also included for parks and recreation beautification and invasive removal initiative, Buch said.

The selectmen are holding budget workshops this week to go over each town department’s request.

The selectmen and board of education will present their recommended budgets to the board of finance on March 5. The board of finance will then hold a public hearing to get input from the community on March 12, and they will vote on the entire budget April 9.

The Representative Town Meeting will have the final say during their meeting on May 13.

You can view all pertinent budget documents and schedules here, and view meetings on Darien TV79 here.

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