Even though our Town has voted on a budget, set a Mill Rate and is sending out tax bills, Fairfield’s budget is not final. We are waiting on the State to approve its budget. We currently have $5 million in State Aid in our budget. When the State budget is finalized, we are expecting to see a reduction in this funding and must then adjust our budget accordingly.
Since the RTM has voted on the budget and the Mill Rate has been set, the Town is limited in the adjustments we can make. The Board of Education budget is 65% of our overall budget and cannot be adjusted without agreement from the Board of Education.
Debt Service is 10% of our budget and has to be paid. We are committed to making our Pension Fund and OPEB Retirement Fund payments. This totals about 80% of our budget that cannot be adjusted at this point.
The remaining 20% of the Town budget is about $60 million and includes Police, Fire, Public Works, the Library, and Parks & Recreation as well as a number of smaller departments. Finding significant cuts or reductions in these departments presents a real problem and will most likely mean reductions in Town services.
In Fairfield, we are doing our best to prepare for the unknown. We have instituted a hiring freeze and put a hold on capital purchases as well as other measures. Our goal is to provide the maximum financial flexibility to deal with the expected cuts. We are doing our best to avoid significant cuts in Town services. However, everyone should be ready for some changes if the State makes dramatic cuts to our funding.
I will keep you updated as changes come down from the State.