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Danbury Mayor Spells Out $237 Million Budget Proposal

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton proposes his 2015-16 budget to the City Council Tuesday.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton proposes his 2015-16 budget to the City Council Tuesday. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DANBURY, Conn. – Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has proposed a $237 million budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year that would see the mill rate increase 2.39 percent.

The overall increase to the operating budget of about $2 million is less than 1 percent, Boughton said when presenting his budget proposal to the City Council at its meeting Tuesday night. The mill rate would increase to 28.26. There will be no increases to sewer or water rates, and no additional fees or surcharges.

“Every single department will be challenged by the impact of this budget, but they’re challenged every year, and we have great department heads who will figure out how to make it all work,” Boughton said. “We looked closely at cutting even more, and we realized that frankly, greater cuts would just be irresponsible, and you come to the point where you would jeopardize public safety, or not be able to deliver the core services that our residents expect.”

The main cost drivers of the budget are due to pension obligations, retiree medical benefits, and lack of increase in state aid, particularly to the schools. Boughton said that most of the increase in the city budget will go toward education.

Among the capital projects proposed in the budget are an expansion at Danbury High School, roof replacements at five Danbury schools, and $8 million on road paving and drainage projects to repair damage sustained in this past winter. The town will also be implementing energy efficiency projects at schools and public buildings, such as LED lighting and solar power.

Boughton also outlined a playbook dubbed SmartGov, which includes steps the city can take in the coming years that will focus on “governance, transformation of education, innovative service delivery, transparency, sustainability and a reimagined quality of life.” He laid out the first 10 plays in the playbook, which he said the city will look to implement in the next 18 months.

These plays include the creation of a Project Management Office to oversee all city projects; creating a strategic planning and steering committee; assessing current employee needs and workflow issues; more transparency and communication both internally and to the community; more training for employees; outsourcing services to create efficiencies; creating a shared services model where services such as IT and human resources are shared between the city and the Board of Education; making Danbury a regional safety hub by offering the use of city dispatch services and jail cells to neighboring communities; and smaller initiatives such as hiring a grant writer.

“There is the potential for Danbury to save hundreds of thousands of dollars over time by following the playbook,” Boughton said.

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