NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s proposed spending plan for the next fiscal year includes about $1.7 million to help pay for a portion of the education budget shortfall that was discovered last year, members of the Common Council learned Tuesday night.
The city hopes to pay the debt incurred by the education insurance payments deficit in two years, according to Finance Director Tom Hamilton, an amount that has been reallocated from the schools district's spending plan to the city’s for accounting reasons.
“I don’t want to say that we’ve forgiven the debt,” Hamilton told the council’s Finance and Claims Committee. “But we’ve told the Board of Education to budget as they would and the city will handle the repayment.”
After the 2014-15 fiscal year, the debt, which amounts to about $4 million, will have been paid, Hamilton said. But, he added, the Board of Education is essentially paying for the shortfall – even though the money is technically coming out of the city’s spending plan – in part because the school district is not recommended to receive its total monetary request for next year.
“The board requested more than I’m recommending,” said Hamilton of the roughly $164 million he is recommending for the school spending. “That’s money that could have gone toward instruction.”
Thursday night, the committee will hold a public hearing in the Common Council Chamber of City Hall to listen to residents’ suggestions on the spending plan. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
The council sets the city’s overall spending cap at its Feb. 26 meeting, and over the ensuing weeks the Board of Estimate & Taxation works with departments – and holds its own public hearing on March 20 – to set the spending plan within that cap.
“The council’s role on the operating budget is more limited,” Hamilton said. “It’s to set the cap. It doesn’t set how much goes to one department or the other.”