Budgets Reduced, ATBM to Continue

Weston Today photos

For the first time in recent memory, the Annual Town Budget Meeting drew a quorum on Wednesday evening, proceeded to vote several reductions to Town budgets, but must resume on Thursday evening.

Business had not been concluded when the meeting reached its Charter-mandated 11:30 adjournment time, so the ATBM will be called back to order at 8:00 on Thursday in the high school auditorium, still with a quorum requirement of at least 130 qualified voters.

Before adjournment, cuts to line items in the proposed $16 million Town operating budget added up to $313,081. The single $59 million line for school district operations was approved. Still to be debated are allocations for 30 capital projects totaling about $3 million.

Once those remaining items are dispensed with, budgets adjusted at the ATBM go to a machine-ballot Budget Referendum, which begins right away and is scheduled to resume on May 4 at Town Hall. (See The Calendar for details.)


Cuts to the Town operating budget on line-by-line votes during the meeting’s first 2½ hours included reductions to proposed additional staff hours for the tax collector’s office and the Land Use department. $240,000 intended to fund project management, planning and maintenance at Public Works were also voted out.

A motion was rejected to reduce by more than one third an allocation for services used by the tree warden. A motion to cut the transfer station budget to zero and close the facility was also rejected.

By the time the education budget came up at around 10:30, several attendees had already objected to its place on the agenda, given babysitter deadlines.

A motion was made to reduce the school budget by $1 million. Another would have gone a bit further, pegging it at this year’s level, the stated logic being that the cut was a way to honor the excellent students and staff in Weston schools for all their hard work.

In the end, the school operating budget as proposed passed on a voice vote, at which time many in the auditorium headed for the exits.

Capital items

Only six items on the long list of proposed capital expenditures were taken up before adjournment, and two were cut.

$225,000 was completely eliminated for half of the town’s share of costs for Phase 3 of the sidewalks project. The second installment is planned for next year’s budget.

Phase 3 is the part intended to close the loop around the center of town by running sidewalks down Old Hyde Road from Lords Highway to Norfield Road and up to the church. Opposition was led by homeowners on Old Hyde.

As proposed, the project is mostly funded by a federal grant. Design is not yet complete and construction, if it proceeds, is two years away, leaving time for design changes or another pass at funding.

An allocation was also cut for project management and engineering of projects funded by state and federal grants. Some of the projects, including three bridge replacements, are already underway. Others must be shovel-ready for grant applications. The requested $250,000 was reduced to $100,000, apparently on the assumption that more money, as needed, would simply be drawn from reserves by the Board of Finance.

Still to come

The meeting adjourned before a vote was taken on a motion to eliminate $606,171 for a fire suppression system that would lay the groundwork for replacing the Town Hall Annex with another modular unit.

Those funds are apparently a placeholder, as the decision to lease a new modular facility pends approval at a planned Special Town Meeting.

The idea is to replace the existing Annex with another temporary facility to address structural, environmental, and safety concerns — possibly out of worry about liability for OSHA violations — while plans are developed for permanent solutions to Town facility needs.

The idea is also to allow Parks and Recreation staff to vacate the old Jarvis Academy building, thus making way for commercial development of that property.

Funds for facility plans appear as several capital items yet to be taken up, as do allocations for police and DPW equipment, a variety of repairs at the schools, $330,000 for school security, and $553,991 for the second installment to replace Fire Engine No. 7.

In the photo above, the panel. From left to right: Parliamentarian Barbara Reynolds, school district Finance Director Phillip Cross, Superintendent Lisa Barbiero, Board of Education chair Steve Ezzes, First Selectwoman Samantha Nestor, Town Administrator Karl Kilduff, and Town Finance Director Rick Darling.

Above, ATBM Moderator Robert Uzenoff.

Corrections: In the initial edition of this article, we erred in reporting that a $40,000 reduction was made to the assessor’s office. The reduction, as reflected in this edition, was made to the tax collector’s office.

We also erred by reporting that an allocation was cut for construction management of projects funded by state and federal grants. The reduction, as reflected in this edition, was for project management and engineering of such projects. We regret the errors. Additional photos were also added to this edition.

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