Residents can comment on budget plans at Thursday hearing

Former alderman Thomas Beirne said he will speak out at Thursday’s budget hearing before the Board of Aldermen.

The hearing, scheduled for Thursday, April 4, starting at 7 p.m. at Milford City Hall, offers residents a chance to comment on the city and school budget proposals.

Beirne said he plans to speak out about funding for school resource officers. He wants the city to commit funds to pay for five police officers to work in the city’s schools. School Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Feser said she would like to have the resource officers, called SROs. The mayor and police chief have said the same, but so far there has been no commitment from the city to budget for the additional officers.

Police Chief Keith Mello has identified a potential $100,000 that could be used for the officers. But all five SROs are estimated to cost $350,000.

Under the finance board-approved budget, the total city and school spending plan for 2013-14 stands at $194,507,618, and would produce a mill rate of 26.32, up from the current rate of 25.67.

That means that taxes on the typical Milford home with a market value of $311,070 would rise $157 next fiscal year.

However, the Board of Aldermen still has to review the spending plan and make the final decision.

When the finance board reviewed the budget proposals, members shaved about $100,000 from the city side of the proposed package and left the school board request alone.

The finance board left several items for the Board of Aldermen to consider when the budget reaches it.

For example, Milford Health Director Andrew Dennis McBride had requested a change in job descriptions for two key positions. He wanted to make the administrator of nurses a director of nurses and lessen some of the responsibilities of that job.

At the same time he wanted to increase responsibilities for the community health coordinator and make the person in that job a deputy director of health.

Since the administrator of nurses has retired, a new person will take the job at presumably lower pay. McBride reasoned the savings could pay for the increased responsibilities for the new deputy director of health position.

Finance board members said the savings would exist for only four years because the nursing position salary would likely increase over time. Saying that more information was needed, they decided not to act on McBride’s request but to let the aldermen gather more information and make the call.

The aldermen will discuss individual department requests at budget meetings this month and next before voting on a final budget around mid-May.