STRATFORD, CT – The Stratford Town Council voted to approve an amended 2024-2025 budget with a 6-4 vote last night. After numerous discussions between the Council, Mayor Laura R. Hoydick, and Chief Administrative Officer Chris Tymniak, the Town Council presented and approved a budget of $260,014,370. This includes an allocation of an additional $500,000 to the Board of Education, along with a $2 million BOE surplus from the 2023 fiscal year (allowed per state statute). This puts the Board of Education budget at $127,502,725 from the general fund, plus the aforementioned $2 million provided by the surplus.

Mayor Laura R. Hoydick expressed her sincerest thanks to Town Council members for their collaboration on this budget, and holds gratitude towards the taxpayers of Stratford for their patience during the process. “The budget process is not easy, but I am deeply appreciative of the time put in by Council members to look at every department within our Town’s operations and see this proposed budget is an appropriate way to support our community’s needs while being considerate to our taxpayers. This sentiment was prevalent in the Council’s ability in sourcing and providing an increase to the Board of Education budget without placing additional strain on our taxpayers nor our Town services. The Town is providing $2 million dollars of surplus funds for the BOE, without any constraints, and through the Council’s reallocation, an additional $500,000 was added to the BOE budget. I appreciate the Council’s acknowledgement and consideration that the BOE has had an operating surplus at the end of each fiscal year since I have been in office. This recurring practice by the BOE indicates the school district could not spend all the funding they had available to them for that year and the Council’s consideration of this management practice is reflected in the approved budget wherein Town department budgets are lean, making up 46% of the Town’s operating budget and BOE making up 54%. Those surplus amounts were never deducted from the funding request for the following year.

“Additionally, as an Alliance District, the Stratford Public School System receives the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant directly from the State and this year will receive $3,060,626 million dollars more than last year. This is in conjunction with the previous year’s ESC allocation which goes to the BOE, meaning they will receive at least $5.1 million in total from the State.  Also, there are additional Title 1 grant funds coming from Congress that will add to their operating budget.”

The final approved budget, with the support of Council members O’Connor, O’Neal, Whitham, Glad, Llewelyn, and Aurelia, equals the Mayor’s proposed FY 2024-2025 budget, with the total dollar amount being $260,014,370. A number of line-item expenditures were adjusted through an amendment put forth by Councilman Llewelyn, including an additional $500,000 for the Board of Education. The Mill Rate was not impacted by the amendment and remains at 40.20 for the 2023 Grand List, excluding the Mill Rate for Motor Vehicles, which is capped per state statute at 32.46. With this budget, there is no increase in taxes for the Stratford community due to the diligence within the Mayor’s proposed budget and the reallocation of funds to support the Board of Education’s budget request.

Mike Henrick, Chairman of the Board of Education, offered his gratitude to the Town Council, the Mayor, and the Town administration for their hard work and dedication in approving the final budget that he believes will provide ample pathways of success for students and families in the coming school year under proper management by the internal office. “I’d like to thank the Town Council for designating the $2 million surplus from fiscal year ‘23 back to the Board of Education without any strings attached, as well as the Mayor increasing the Board’s budget by $100,000, and for the Council adding an additional $500,000 in reallocations of Town funds. I appreciate the Mayor and the Council in their commitment to properly support our school district with this budget. Now it is our time, as the Board of Education, to get to work to ensure proper management of this funding and transparency of its allocations. Thank you again and I look forward to continued collaboration with the Mayor and the Council as we continue to seek ways to improve our town.”

Carl Glad, Chairman of the Town Council, noted, “Perseverance shows with this budget. We worked, as one entity, to get to this moment. Both sides were in agreement that this budget was the leanest it could possibly be across all departments. We also agreed on our priorities for any available additional funding. This budget reflects Stratford’s financial reality and is a fiscally responsible roadmap for the successful future for Stratford.”

Mayor Hoydick stated, “This budget reflects the Town Council and my administration’s commitment to funding the core initiatives that define the essence of Stratford. It ensures residents will benefit from well-maintained infrastructure, a more than sufficiently funded school district, and an incredible range of services from all our departments. This grants us the ability to look towards the future while continuing to foster a sense of belonging throughout and within our diverse population. Thank you, again, to the Town Council for the dedication and determination shown in navigating this process for the best interests and future of Stratford.”

By Alex

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