The Board of Finance got its first look at the proposed town and education budgets last night.
The total request for the 2023-24 fiscal year, from 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein and superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice. is $233,487,842. That’s up 4.39% from the current year.
Education comprises 63% of the total town budget. The bulk of that $136 million — 64% — goes for salaries. Benefits comprise another 15%.
Other costs include purchased services (11.3%), property services (5.9%), supplies (2.1%), equipment (0.6%) and other (0.5%).
Click here for the proposed Board of Education budget.
In the $81,932,340 town budget, the largest costs are public safety (30%) and pension, other post-employment benefits and insurance (25%).
The rest of the funds go to Public Works (16%), Parks & Recreation (10%), general government (9%), debt service (6%) and other uses, like the Westport Library, Westport Transit District, Earthplace and Aspetuck Health District (2%).
Westport’s total debt is now $100 million. It is projected to rise to $350 million by 2031, then begin to decline.
Tooker’s budget packet includes a mill rate comparison with area towns. Westport’s mill rate of 18.07 is higher than Greenwich (11.28) and Darien (17.23), but below New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Fairfield, Wilton and Ridgefield. Weston had the highest area mill rate: 32.97.
Click here to see the total recommended town budget.
Next steps include public hearings, Board of Finance votes, and final approval by the Representative Town Meeting. (Hat tip: Nancy Kail)
(How’s this for a personal budget idea: Please set aside something to support “06880.” Click here — and thank you!)
The FY 2024 proposed town budget includes a request of $5,661,074 from the Westport Library, which represents 2.4% of the total town budget and a 5.24% increase over the prior year. I hope some of those funds can be used to reinstall the River of Names at the library.
At last night’s budget meeting of the RTM’s Library, Museum & Arts Committee, Dick Lowenstein asked several good questions about insurance, employee unions, and the café. A few people indicated their displeasure and tried to shut him up. When he asked about storage costs for the River of Names, backs went up and the air left the room. A member of the library board said, “The budget assumption is that we will successfully transition the tile wall this year.” Realizing that this might benefit from translation, the head of the library added that three groups were interested in the wall and that if it couldn’t be offloaded in 2023 and needed to be stored for another year, the cost was no big deal. (One trustee remembered the cost as $3,000 a year. Someone else said it was $2,500.) The River of Names may be headed somewhere, but—as the library has announced—it’s not going back to where it started out.
The NYTIMES recently published an article about a mural in a law college in Vermont where a similar situation occurred and mentioned several other instances nationwide and provided a link to a federal law. It’s important that we in Westport are cognizant of and respect the rights of artists.
“ Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 – Amends the copyright law to define a “work of visual art.” Grants the author of a work of visual art the right to claim authorship of such work when publicly displayed, independent of other exclusive rights, and to disclaim authorship of such work because of substantial distortion or alteration that harms his or her reputation. Grants such an author the right to prevent any destruction, distortion, mutilation, or other modification of that work which would harm his or her reputation or honor.
“Extends such rights 50 years beyond the author’s death (or co-author’s, in the case of a joint work) with respect to visual art works created as of the effective date of this Act.
“Waives artists’ rights when a work cannot be removed from a building without distortion, mutilation, or alteration. Directs the Register of Copyrights to establish a recordation system for authors of visual art works that have been incorporated into a building.
“Declares that this Act preempts equivalent rights under State law.
“Includes within the scope of copyright infringement violations of the rights conferred by this Act. Declares that: (1) criminal infringement penalties do not apply to such violations; and (2) registration is not a prerequisite to copyright infringement actions for violations of this Act.
“Directs the Register of Copyrights to report to the Congress the results of: (1) a study regarding the extent to which authorship rights have been waived; and (2) a feasibility study regarding new requirements enabling authors of works of visual art to participate in the commercial exploitation of their work after its first sale. Requires submission of such report within 18 months after enactment of this Act.’