ECS Takes Mid-Year Cut
CROMWELL - Seven months after passing its municipal budget for the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year, the Town of Cromwell-like communities throughout the state-has learned that it will be getting less Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding than anticipated back in May.

       The Governor-implemented adjustment was prompted by the Office of Policy Management’s (OPM) need to find $20 million in Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE) savings it had budgeted for the fiscal year, according to a letter sent to legislators by OPM Secretary Benjamin Barnes.

       For Cromwell, that means a 1.8 percent reduction in the $4.7 million ECS projection it had based its school budget planning on.

       “I have been in touch with my colleagues on the Town side and we are both monitoring our budgets very carefully,” said Superintendent of Schools Paula Talty.

       That was the theme this past budget cycle, with the Town and Board of Education budgets yielding a flat Mill Rate Town Manager Tony Salvatore attributed to modest requests by both sides and a 2.6 percent bump in the value of the Grand List.

       “We’ve been very frugal with our budgets,” said Mayor Enzo Faienza. “I think this will help now, but if we face another cut, three or four months from now, and another cut, and another cut, it’s going to be tough.”

       Faienza expressed frustration regarding the situation, calling on the state-facing a $1 billion deficit-to exhibit the kind of budgeting habits municipalities are expected to.

       “The situation in Hartford is grim,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we as a town have to have to worry about this midseason. This is funding that’s for our kids-the future.”

       Talty declined to go into details as to what current year budget ramifications the latest reduction could cause, but Faienza implied that there is no known significant financial impact yet. Officials from the two sides will continue to monitor the situation, he said.

       The Board’s 1.7 percent budget increase for the year was designed to cover contractually-mandated salary and benefit increases, the continuation of the district’s 1-to-1 technology initiative, and supply the Cromwell High School Music Department with new uniforms and instruments.