Litchfield News

Finance board to consider proposed school budget (04-07-19)

The fate of the Litchfield Board of Education’s proposed budget of $19,757,000 for 2019-20 lies in the hands of the Board of Finance and is expected to be determined on Monday.
The finance board, at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall, could move the spending plan as is to a budget hearing on April 24 or reduce the proposal because of an ongoing controversy over the school board’s decision to leave the town’s self-insurance pool for an insurance plan with ConnectiCare.
The school board claims it will save an estimated $250,000 in 2019-20 by going with ConnectiCare, but the town’s auditor is saying the savings is being overstated and should be projected at $122,000.
With the numbers still up in the air, the finance board decided on Wednesday to delay action on the proposed budget until Monday. The board can’t move the proposal to the hearing until it is convinced the school board’s numbers are solid.
The school board is seeking an increase in spending of $763,474, or 4 percent, over the current budget of $18,993,526. The board on Wednesday voted to reaffirm its March decision to leave the self-insurance pool for ConnectiCare.
Action by the school board came a day after ConnectiCare gave the town a quote on an insurance plan covering the board’s 140 employees and the town’s 34 employees. The board agreed that a joint quote should be pursued after town officials expressed concern over the board’s decision to jump out of the pool.
Under the quote, the increase in cost for the school board would be $350,000 and for the town $70,000. A history of high claims by town employees is the reason behind the increases, according to the town’s insurance consultant, John Calkins. Town employees would also lose their dental and vision benefits under the plan.