Litchfield’s Board of Education has adopted a proposed budget for 2019-20 that is more than $1 million higher than the current budget of $18,993,526.
The board on Wednesday voted to adopt the $20 million spending plan recommended by Superintendent of Schools Sherri Turner. The proposal is $1,066,474 higher than the current budget.
School officials will present the spending plan to the Board of Finance, which is scheduled to meet March 11.
Of the proposed increase, $520,778 is for an increase in health benefits for employees and $316,926 is for an increase in employee wages. Wages total $11.7 million and benefits $4.1 million, or 80 percent of the proposal.
Turner is hopeful the increase in benefits can be reduced, as she told the board she is exploring options. The superintendent is expected to brief the board on her effort during the board’s meeting this coming Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Center School.
If the increase can be lowered, the board is prepared to add $7,000 to the proposed budget to cover the cost of repairs to the high school music program’s instruments.
School board member Matthew Terzian expressed reservation about the increase in the proposed budget, calling it too high.
“I think we need to make some compassionate cuts, because 5 percent would be hard on the community,” Terzian said. “I think we could turn the budget upside down and find some savings.”
Terzian was one of three board members who voted against adopting the spending plan. The others were Wayne Shuhi and Lynn Stone.