The Amity Budget was scheduled to go to referendum on Tuesday, May 5, but due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, “The referendum process was canceled by an executive order from the Governor and the authority for adopting a budget was given to governing authority of each municipality,” according to Theresa Lumas, Director of Finance & Administration at Amity. “As a regional school district, the Board of Education is the governing body.”
The actual amount of the 2020-21 Budget is $50,784,509, slightly less than the proposed $51.5 million presented earlier this year.
Here is the breakdown of the town shares:
Bethany – $9,000,731
Orange – $25,003,802
Woodbridge – $15,756,256
Total Member Towns Allocations $49,760,789
With the pandemic dictating our every move, children out of school, and unemployment at its highest since the Great Depression, this budget was not necessarily very popular among residents and town leaders.
One of those who spoke out was Orange First Selectman Jim Zeoli, whose town bears the highest burden.
“The economy has dramatically changed since they came up with this budget,” Zeoli said. “Everyone received a notice in their mail so they could submit comments to the board, but they were totally disregarded.”
“It’s not fair to the taxpayers or these communities,” he said.
Woodbridge First Selectman Beth Heller said, “In these difficult times I would have hoped for a lower increase or even no increase in the Amity budget for FY 2021. At the same time, I do know how important the Amity regional school system and education is to our Town.”
She added, “Since the three towns (Bethany, Orange, and Woodbridge) have no direct ability to set the Amity budget, it is something the taxpayers must accept. We continue to look for cost savings in the Town of Woodbridge’s budget, and hope to find additional reductions.”
Bethany First Selectman Paula Cofrancesco worked in the Amity Administrative office for 20 years and was a member of the Board of Education for a time, so she looked at it differently.
Cofrancesco said it’s difficult to process things and the ABOE worked hard to get the budget number down. “They provide the proper curriculum and services for our schools,” she said. “And they provide an outstanding education for Amity students.”
She added that we are all working under unusual circumstances and the towns have to take care of their own budgets now.
The Board of Finance has been taking resident’s mail-in comments regarding the budget and will consider them before voting on the town budget and setting the mill rate on May 18th.