Business on a Budget? Officials Gearing Up for 'Tough Budget Cycle'

The budget process is set to kick-off as Berlin Town Manager Denise McNair meets with department heads, but unknown revenues as a result of state deficit and other challenges could leave the town looking to reduce costs to make ends meet.

Credit: Patch.
Credit: Patch.
The new year is fully underway, a full week almost behind, and as the town prepares to enter into the annual budget process, officials are going to be faced with tough decision as they attempt to craft a budget that will take into account unknown changes in revenue streams.

In layman’s terms, things are going to be tight in 2014-15.

Members of the Berlin Town Council and Town Manager Denise McNair are preparing for a process that could be “tighter than usual” as state funding continues to provide question marks and taxpayers find themselves stretched already, McNair said in an article in the Berlin Citizen.

“We’re actively not looking to spend more money,” McNair said in the article. “It will be interesting to see how it’s played back in the next couple months.”

Members of the Town Council this week offered insight to the upcoming budget, saying economic recovery has not met some of Berlin’s residents yet and warning that they intend to cut wherever possible. The goal: to balance the budget without doing so on the backs of residents struggling to make ends meet.

McNair said department budgets in some cases are already lower than they were in 2013-14, while others will need to look at addressing needs through alternative means.

The issue, McNair and council members said, is that dwindling state funding due to deficits and decreases in the town’s grand list have led to less revenue. To maintain current services, let alone adding new ones, would require an increase in tax rates if revenue issues are not resolved.

Another challenge lies in increased costs, including health insurance costs as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Council members said many residents, including private business owners and employees are seeing similar challenges.

The budget process in 2014 will kick-off later this month with the Board of Education and be referred to the council after that, with the complete budget coming before the Berlin Town Council by early March.

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