GREENWICH, Conn. – Those on both sides of Greenwich's budget discussion left Town Hall hoping that "compromise" can be more than just a buzzword after the initial presentation of the town and school budgets to the Board of Estimates and Taxation on Monday evening.
Passing an appropriate 2013-14 spending plan is "besieged by challenges," First Selectman Peter Tesei said, but he said was determined not to cut services as he presented the budget to the board.
The address began a week's worth of budget presentations from each town department to the Board of Estimates and Taxation.
Tesei said the town can afford the proposed $382 million budget and maintain current services if the town's mill rate is raised 2.96 percent instead of the board's recommended 2.5 percent. The town's mill rate determines the amount of taxes paid by property owners based on property value.
The difference in the two proposals is only $1 per person per week, Tesei said.
"My expectation is that the budget will get careful review and scrutiny, and I suspect there will be changes," he said. "Anytime you have 12 people who have their own thoughts on how things should be done, they're going to bring forth those ideas. But I expect it to be conducted civilly and unemotionally."
Many of the speakers who addressed the board in the public hearing portion of the meeting slammed possible cuts, especially to the school budget.
Board of Education Chairman Leslie Moriarty presented the $2.74 million, or 1.97 percent, school budget increase, noting it is the "lowest annual increase in at least the last 10 years."
John Blankley, a businessman who ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Tesei for first selectman in 2011, elicited applause with his call to the board to "think again" about cuts to the school budget and to the long-term financing of the town.
"I still think there is time for you to revise somewhat," Blankley said. "It's never too late to do the right thing."