New Milford Mayor Pete Bass has started making staff reductions he announced last week in response to state budget cuts. The assistant police chief, the assistant director of Parks and Recreation and the Public Works project manager have been laid off. Bass says they received six weeks of severance and health insurance until April 30th, more than legally required. He says the decisions were not made lightly, but were necessary to not put the entire burden on taxpayers.
There was a bit of a controversy over whether the laying off the Assistant Parks and Rec Director was legal or not. According to the town charter, the Commission gets to vote on employee terminations, but Mayor Pete Bass does have the discretion to lay off employees. The Parks and Rec Commission is looking into what cost-cutting measures can be taken to save enough money to keep the position.
Bass is proposing a $101.8 million budget, with a decrease of about $8,600 on the town side and an increase of about $868,000 for the schools. But the school funding is about $600,000 less than the increase the Board of Education is calling for.
New Milford is facing projected revenue declines in Building Department permit fees and Parks and Recreation program and park fees. Bass says there's a $50,000 reduction included in his budget for the Commission on Aging to fix what he says is a transportation grant that was double counted.
The New Milford budget includes $55,000 for a grant writer. Bass says the employee will be in charge of eliminating a deficiencies in the most recent Audit, with a focus on obtaining new grants to increase revenues.