NORWALK, Conn. – Three of Norwalk's Democratic Councilmen are asking for a change to the approach regarding the $4 million deficit in Norwalk's school budget that was uncovered in late April.
The resolution put forth by Warren Peña (At-Large), David Watts (District A) and John Igneri (District E) is one of two resolutions likely to stir discussion at Tuesday's Common Council meeting. The other one recommends experimenting with the traffic flow on Calf Pasture Beach Road, temporarily reducing it to one lane in each direction, in response to a campaign by Norwalk residents.
In the resolution that addresses the school budget, Peña, Watts and Igneri say they do not agree with the payment plan offered to the Board of Education by the Board of Estimate and Taxation, and note that the $4 million shortfall was not taken into account when they voted for the budget in February.
The plan at present calls for the BOE to cut $1.8 million out of next year's budget and $2.2 million out of the following year's budget. Igneri, Watts and Peña think the payment should be deferred for four years.
The Board of Education and Superintendent Susan Marks were working to cut $5.8 million out of the budget proposed by Marks in December before the shortfall was discovered. The shortfall was added to the $5.8 million, meaning that $10 million in cuts were necessary, but Mayor Richard Moccia and the BET deferred $2.2 million for a year, lowering the amount of cuts necessary to about $7.6 million.
Marks said that figure is closer to $9 million, as she must allow for unemployment costs when she lays off teachers.
The resolution calls on the city of Norwalk "to provide the full $4 million needed to cover the deficit and any payment of said assistance be paid at least four years from the date of said notification to the City of Norwalk of said shortage."
The resolution also notes that the council has yet to receive any information as to “(1) where did the money go, (2) why the loss went uncovered for so long; (3) were all education expenditures approved by the BOE or under BOE established policies; (4) were funds spent as reported on staff that were not approved by the BOE and (5) how come the calculation for other post-employment benefits, or OPEB, was incorrect and not detected by BOE and City Officials earlier than April 2012.”
The other resolution, sponsored by Democrats Anna Duleep (At-Large), Matt Miklave (District A), Bruce Kimmel (District D), Watts and Igneri, would reduce Calf Pasture Beach Road from four lanes to two in order for the city to establish “vehicle free lanes” for the months of July and August, with the exception of the Fourth of July. This would allow the city to study the effectiveness and use of the "road diet" recommended by an independent study, to see if that should be a permanent change, as requested by many residents.
Democrats have seven seats in the 15-member council. Democrat Carvin Hilliard is president of the council.
The meeting is at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Common Council Chambers in Norwalk City Hall.