DARIEN, Conn. -- Darien government spending is expected to increase by about $2.9 million next year, for a total of $43 million. This represents an increase of about 7.1 percent from the 2013 fiscal budget.
Anticipated spending increases are caused by the cost of utilities such as gas and electricity, facility management, health care and worker compensation and insurance. Health care costs are expected to increase by about 25 percent, according to Town Administrator Karl Kilduff. Facility costs will largely be driven by the operation of the new police station, the renovated Weed Beach and transitional costs associated with the new Mather Community Center that will be opening at Town Hall.
Capital expenses in the coming year include funding for new sidewalk construction, traffic engineering to help improve traffic on Post Road and a drainage project to alleviate flooding on Intervale Road. The town is also looking to make repairs to the Noroton Heights Fire Department's apparatus bay, construct a new customer service desk at Town Hall and hire a consultant to look at ways to improve the management of town facilities.
"We have pointed out repeatedly since the downturn of the economy that we are an unsustainable budget course. We have cut things, we have pushed things off, we have delayed the inevitable, and that is something that we simply cannot continue to do," Kilduff said when presenting the proposed budget to the Board of Selectmen Monday night.
"We are on this unsustainable path. We are sticking our finger in the proverbial dike. This is not something that can hold back the dam waters indefinitely. We cannot hold back the water unless there's a fundamental change in expectations or expenditures."
The Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance will be making adjustments to the budget before it is finally voted on in May. Darien's current mill rate is 12.68, with the value of a mill roughly $8.7 million. Kilduff said that in order to reduce the mill rate increase by 0.01 mills, cuts to the budget must be made in increments of about $87,000.
"If you're not cutting in those $87,000 increments, you're not impacting taxes," he said.