One of the major steps in the city budget process will take place Thursday, Feb. 1, when the Board of Finance holds a public hearing on the proposed city and school budgets for 2018-19. The hearing will start at 7 p.m. at Milford City Hall. It is a chance for residents to speak about spending plans for the next year, what they think is important and what areas they would like budget makers to focus on. In recent years, only a handful of residents have attended these public hearings. The Board of Education has released its budget plan for the next school year, but the mayor has not yet. Mayor Ben Blake said he plans to discuss his budget plan with the media on Feb. 1, when he expects it will be back from the printer. \u201cIt\u2019s pretty flat,\u201d Mayor Blake said this week, indicating there aren\u2019t many changes in next year\u2019s budget compared to the current spending plan. The spending plan is available to view on the city website. The current budget, which covers both city and school expenses, is $205.78 million, and the mill rate is 27.79. The Board of Education\u2019s spending plan for next school year, which the school board recently voted unanimously in support of, is $93.59 million, a 1.786% increase over the current year\u2019s budget. The budget increases spending about $1.7 million over the current $91.95-million budget. School Supt. Dr. Elizabeth Feser\u2019s initial request was for $93.23 million, a 1.39% increase over the current year, but the board added some funds to that to help support girls ice hockey and to pay for various building improvements. School board members, in approving the plan, praised Feser for her diligence in creating what they described as a reasonable spending plan. Several new requests, coupled with reductions in various areas, produced what Feser described as a budget that continues to improve education in Milford while being mindful of the economy. After the Feb. 1 public hearing, the Board of Finance will start looking in depth at the various budget line items. On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the board will review the Board of Education budget. That meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Conference Room B of the Parsons Complex. On Monday, Feb. 12, the board will start reviewing city department requests. The meeting will also start at 5:30 p.m. in Conference Room B of the Parsons Complex. The board has scheduled a technical discussion for Thursday, March 1, starting at 5:30 p.m. That is the meeting where it sometimes become clear if and where changes will be made to the budget request. The finance board has scheduled Wednesday, March 7 to vote on the plan. That meeting is also scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in Conference Room B of the Parsons Complex. After the finance board approves a budget plan, it moves along to the Board of Aldermen for a final review.