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Taxes going up 5.71 percent

Photo by Megan Spicer

Representative Town Meeting Finance and Budget Committee chairman James Palen spoke to the RTM about the committee's recommendations on May 12 at Darien Town Hall.

The Representative Town Meeting Monday approved the 2014-15 municipal budget of $133,093,941 after a lengthy discussion.

The RTM voted 54-12 with one abstention for the Board of Selectmen's $44,957,974 budget and 62-12 with one abstention for the Board of Education $88,135,967 budget.

The package is a 5.89 percent increase over the 2013-14 budget of $125,691,553. The RTM also approved a $2,510,955 capital budget.

For 2014-15, taxes will increase 5.71 percent.

The mill rate was set at 15.01, which increases by 1.84 mills from 2013-14. With the new rate, taxpayers would pay $15.01 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

For nearly two hours, RTM members debated whether or not they should reduce the selectmen's budget first by a lump sum of $200,000 then by 1 percent in the operating budget. Neither vote passed.

Standing in for Town Attorney Wayne Fox, Edmund Schmidt, who works in the same law firm, told the members that in order to make a cut from the selectmen's budget, a specific line item must be targeted.

A motion was also made to cut the $200,000 from the $3.5 million grant to the Darien Library. The grant, which is 11 percent of the selectmen's overall budget, covers the operating expenses of the library. Money for books, programs and technology is paid for by the Friends of the Library.

Only one RTM member voted in favor of reducing the Darien Library's budget.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583;@Meg_DarienNews

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