Brookfield residents have overwhelmingly approved a budget and the three capital items on the ballot. Unofficial numbers show the education budget of $39.5 million was approved 1,711 to 506. The $21.7 million municipal budget was approved 1,700 to 508. Residents voted that the education plan was too low and the municipal portion was adequate.
There is no proposed tax increase. There is a less than 1-percent decrease in the municipal budget and a 2.5 percent increased proposed for the schools.
Almost 20 different maintenance and repair projects are planned for Brookfield High School and Whisconier Middle School, representing $2.6 million in spending. Residents voted 1,655 to 524 in favor of the projects.
About $2 million for an emergency Flood Drainage Diversion project was approved by a vote of 1,385 to 776.
$2.1 million for improvements at Town Hall, the Library and volunteer fire houses along with road reconstruction was approved on a vote of 1,451 to 728. That funding request also includes equipment purchases for various departments.
Brookfield First Selectman Bill Tinsley says there's conservative management of the town's debt. He says borrowing was done to save some capacity for big projects on the horizon. There is a likelihood that significant investment will be needed soon for the ageing Huckleberry Hill and Center Elementary Schools.
The town's pension obligations are fully funded.
Tinsley says the Fund Balance level is critical to future bond ratings and borrowing costs. Brookfield ended fiscal year 2013 by uncovering $1.2 million in unauthorized spending by the Board of Education. The town did a refunding bond last year to lower the debt service cost for the Brookfield High School expansion and renovation project. As a result of that, the town will receive an $830,000 benefit, which will be used to partially rebuilt the general fund balance.
While there is a declining enrollment at Brookfield schools, education spending was increased in the budget by 2.5 percent.
About $1.5 million is needed per year to maintain roads in Brookfield, and a few short years ago there was no money in the operating budget for roads. Tinsley says about $250,000 has been added annually to the operating budget for road maintenance, and borrowing the rest. The plan is to continue to add to the operating budget until the $1.5 million mark is reached.