Tag Archives: Westport town budget

Town Budget Passed; Protests Are Past

Last week, the RTM unanimously approved the 2022-23 town budget, of about $222.8 million.

That could be the most underrated, underreported — and astonishing — story of the year.

Each spring for decades, budget battles consumed us. The Board of Finance slashed the Board of Education request. The Board of Ed fought back, with the backing of some — but not all — residents.

Parents argued for and against teachers and/or administrators. Westporters with no kids in school screamed at those who did, and at each other.

The next step — final approval by the Representative Town Meeting — was just as brutal.

Petitions were filed. Referendums were held. An entire political party — the Taxwatchers — formed in the crucible of budget wars.

Dick Leonard, Westport Education Association president, during a budget battle.

Things calmed down in recent years. Still, town boards and the RTM did not always see eye to eye. Department heads were forced to plead their cases, sometimes for just a few thousand dollars.

As Washington has become more polarized, Westport politicians play nice. This year’s requests sailed through, with only a couple of adjustments made.

The numbers seem large: almost $138.7 million for education, about $84.1 million for other town operations,, plus the Library, health and transit districts, and Earthplace.

But the people who make the decisions — Democrats, Republicans and the non-partisan RTM (no Taxwatchers) — seem to agree that Westport is in very sound fiscal shape.

They like the bangs they get for our bucks.

Residents must agree. Peeps in town made very few peeps throughout the process.

Sometimes no news is good news. Washington, take note!

Budget Time!

If you like numbers, facts and statistics — plus a healthy dose of pie charts and bar graphs — this post is for you.

The 1st Selectwoman’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget is online. It includes revenue and expenses from the past year. In 320 pages, it tells the tale of Westport better than any “06880” story ever could.

The budget begins with a few pages of fascinating facts. Our population of 28,016 makes us the 12th fastest growing of all 170 Connecticut municipalities.

Our daytime population swells to 34,851 — meaning many more folks commute in than commute out.

Our 9,916 households include 68% families, 14% seniors living alone, and just 3% singles.

Our median income is $206,466. A full 51% of Westport households earn $200,000 or more. Just 7% earn less than $25,000. An eye-popping 85% of Westporters own their own homes.

A graphic display of Westport income.

But most of the budget is — well, the budget.

It includes $23 million for Public Safety, $19 million in Pensions, OPEB and Insurance, $12 million for Public Works, $7.2 million for Parks & Recreation (much of that offset by income), $1.4 million for Human Services — and just $528,000 for Health, and $343,000 for the Westport Transit District.

The biggest item, of course, is Education ($130 million). The rest of the town budget is $78 million.

Are those figures too high? Too low? Just right?

Find out for yourself. Click here for the full link.

And if you’ve got an opinion: Click “Comments” below, of course.

But you can also attend the Board of Finance meetings March 8 (7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) and March 9 (if needed for the Selectwoman’s budget, and March 10 (same time and place) for the Board of Education budget.

The meetings will also be livestreamed at http://www.westportct.gov (select the “How Do I” heading, then “Watch Town Meetings”), as well as Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Comments may be emailed to BOFcomments@westportct.gov.

The Westport Transit District gets about $343,000 from the town.