Norwich - Aldermen said Monday they support adding nearly $900,000 to the proposed school budget, but voted to delay a vote until the state legislature finalizes action on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed education reform bill.
Alderman Charles Jaskiewicz, former Board of Education chairman and current member of the state Board of Education, proposed bringing the school budget up to $70 million, a 2.82 percent increase - the amount Superintendent Abby Dolliver initially requested in her presentation to the Board of Education.
The school board approved a higher $71.5 million budget with a 5 percent spending increase before City Manager Alan Bergren cut the request to $69.1 million, a 1.5 percent increase.
Jaskiewicz said approving the superintendent's request would keep current school programs and staffing, while restoring three school resource officers and adding money to the Thames River Academy.
Council President Pro Tempore Francois "Pete" Desaulniers said he supports adding to the school budget, but wanted to wait to see the state legislature's moves and how they would affect the city's education grant and mandated school reforms.
The council voted 4-3, with Aldermen Mark Bettencourt, H. Tucker Braddock, Sofee Noblick and Desaulniers supporting the delay and Mayor Peter Nystrom, Jaskiewicz and Alderwoman Deberey Hinchey voting against postponing the decision.
Aldermen did make a few small adjustments to the budget, adding one paid firefighter to start halfway through the next fiscal year and adding $50,000 to the Otis Library budget. The firefighter addition would increase the central city paid fire district tax from 4.54 mills to 4.57 mills, and the library addition would raise the citywide tax rate from a proposed 25.99 to 26.02.
The council will hold a hearing on the preliminary budget next Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Prior to addressing next year's budget, the council voted unanimously to support a $650,000 over 10 years for upgrades to the emergency services communication systems, including tying into a new fiber optic communication system recently installed by Norwich Public Utilities. When he presented his budget in early April, Bergren said he would propose a bond ordinance for the projects rather than put them in the annual budget.