TORRINGTON – Mayor Elinor Carbone did the equivalent of putting this week’s proposed municipal spending for next year for City Council members this week, but also set dates for upcoming budget hearings.
Carbone read the city budget, line by line, giving council members a chance to discuss proposals and increases.
The driver’s budget, for example, is $ 408,655, up 13.73%.
“We had several responses to job postings and a significant number of applicants, but the biggest challenge is finding the right person with the experience we need, with audits, supervision, internal services fund management ( i) capital reserves … We have interviewed four candidates, but we are still looking, “Carbone said.
Department 18, or Information Technology, has a budget of $ 1,051 million, the mayor said. “We need to invest in our technology … We want to incorporate additional staff; a desk technician, more computer support and manpower,” he said. “Another significant increase is the additional software and coverage of our online permission system. We want to make it easier for the public to access online permissions. We’ve been trying to do that for a long time.”
Carbone also included better security for the city’s computer systems. The most important component for employees is to have a second person IT. “The computer person would be in the trenches; the person responding to the problems, “he said.” With 290 users, one technician is not enough. “
American Rescue Plan funding could be used to support this position and other improvements.
“Cybersecurity and technology seem to be a priority in the American Rescue Plan funds and we need to be clear about how we can continue to drive our technology, starting with this very process we are committed to,” Carbone said. “Helping public access to meetings through Zoom, improving our sound system … it’s money that is spent outside of our operating budget.”
Other increases discussed by the mayor were the advisor’s office budget of $ 404,992, which reflects a 4.6 percent increase based on increased wages and rates for revaluation. The board and agency budget increases 5 percent, to $ 316,067, due to fees and taxes, as well as gardening and gardening expenses paid to a private company.
“As you know, we added services due to the transfer of one of the members of our beautification commission. They did some gardening and now we need paid contractors, ”said Carbone.
The building department’s $ 367,517 budget has increased 5.46 percent, according to salaries and plans to hire a new inspector. In the staff budget, salary expenses are up 11.39 percent, with the addition of a part-time benefit employee who will help the staff office, according to the mayor.
Board members Paul Cavagnero and Ann Ruwet asked about how to share services with Torrington public schools.
“This budget raises the issue of shared services, not just human resources and finance, but also IT,” Ruwet said. “There was a lot of interest and it wasn’t talked about. The Board of Education said they were not interested, but … There are opportunities to open this conversation. “
Cavagnero asked about remote learning opportunities in schools.
“In the next four or five months, I’m not sure how it would work, but I’d like an IT expert to present an assessment of our possibilities for using zoom and remote learning,” he said. “Are there opportunities for other school districts or governments to use this advanced technology? Last year has shown tremendous potential for doing things remotely. I would like to see how we move forward. “
Carbone said he agreed, “especially in light of the fact that the Board of Education is also receiving funding from the U.S. rescue plan … Both sides must agree.”
Carbone also added $ 250,000 to the city’s contingency fund. “I’m trying to replace some of the cuts we made last year,” he said. “That’s up 93 percent from last year.”
Torrington took advantage of the governor’s executive order allowing municipalities to approve their budgets on June 30, giving them an additional 30 days for discussions and hearings. The city is also waiting to find out how much money the American Rescue Plan will receive this year and how additional COVID-19 assistance funds can be used. Therefore, the exact amount of the city budget has not yet been announced.
The council plans to discuss the public safety budget, which includes police and fire departments, on June 2. The mayor will also hold a separate meeting to review the department of public works department’s spending plan for next year.
A public budget hearing on the 2021-22 budget is scheduled for June 3 and is likely to take place in City Council chambers.