Residents rally for schools and library at April budget hearing

Residents who are following this year’s budget process said they don’t want to see cuts to education spending or to the public library when the aldermen vote on the 2017-18 spending plan and set a new mill rate.

A public hearing took place earlier this month at Milford City Hall, offering residents a chance to let their feelings be known about the city budget.

Resident Laura Fucci asked the aldermen to consider the impact of any reductions to the education budget. She said public education is an investment in democracy.

Tessa Marquis asked the board not to cut the budget for schools and to preserve the arts, sciences and sports.

Jeanne Cervin told the aldermen, “There is nothing more important to the future of our city than our children,” according to minutes from the meeting.

Kara Flannery commented that people choose where they live based on the school system, and noted that the proposed education budget is the lowest in 15 years.

The Board of Aldermen is continuing to meet with individual departments as it reviews this year’s budget requests.

The Board of Finance voted forward a city budget for 2017-18 that leaves taxes and city services largely the same for next year, although there is some question as to whether looming state budget cuts could hit Milford with millions of dollars in state aid reductions. Now it is up to the aldermen to finalize the budget.

The plan forwarded by the finance board calls for a $207.9-million budget for 2017-18, which is up $3.4 million from the current $204.5 million and marks an increase of 1.7%.

Despite that slight increase, due to an increase in taxable property in the city, the plan would drop the mill rate slightly, from 27.84 to 27.73. That is a .4% decline in the tax rate, which Mayor Ben Blake described as “essentially a flat budget.”

During the public hearing before the Board of Aldermen earlier this month, resident Linda Whittaker of Milford and several others advocated for the Milford Public Library, which is requesting a $1.16 million allocation, up from the current year’s $1.09 million spending plan.

Whittaker spoke about the amount of activity that goes on at the library and how impressed she is with the programming.

Erin Pinsince told the aldermen she considers the library to be the hub of a town and also an important factor when deciding where to live. She asked the board to approve the requested allocation for the library.

The aldermen are expected to wrap up their deliberations and vote on the 2017-18 spending plan mid-May.