By CLAIRE GALVIN
Chronicle Staff Writer
MANSFIELD â€” The Mansfield Town Council was presented with specific dollar amounts on potential cuts to administrative services and community development programs like facility operation schedules, employee wellness programs and open government practices at a meeting Tuesday evening.
In late August, the council directed staff to present precise dollar amounts that could be saved from cutting specific services from each department.
Some of that information was presented at Tuesdayâ€™s council meeting and the rest will be discussed in the next meetings Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.
A special meeting is scheduled for Oct. 30 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss potential cuts to public safety and education and to get a full overview.
Mansfield Finance Director Cherie Trahan and Interim Town Manager Maria Capriola said they thought the cuts to public safety and education would be most questioned by the council and the town.
Those proposed cuts to public safety and education will be included in the special meetingâ€™s packet Oct. 30.
â€śI really want to emphasize that these options in no way should be viewed as a staff endorsement or recommendation,â€ť Capriola said. â€śThis was an incredibly stressful and difficult task.â€ť
Reductions or eliminations in replacement of computer systems, taping and streaming town meetings, posting packets of town meetings online, audits, employee wellness programs and town hall hours were proposed, among many others.
Annually, delaying computer replacements would save $12,000, not taping and streaming meetings would save $2,990, not posting packets online would save $5,637, eliminating the internal control audit would save $25,000, eliminating and reducing the employee wellness program would save roughly $100,000 and closing town hall Fridays would save $234,832.
The staff brought to the table increasing Storrs Center parking fees and building permit fees, outsourcing administrative duties and furlough days for town employees.
While the amount of revenue to be generated by increasing parking fees was not yet calculated, raising building permit fees would increase revenue by $115,000. Outsourcing administrative duties was also not yet calculated, but five furlough days per town staff would save $153,253.
A bottom line figure for the proposed cuts was not included, but most of the reductions included an estimate of money saved.
The council, once again, questioned the contribution to Regional School District 19.
Roughly 21 percent of Mansfieldâ€™s budget is contributed to Region 19, about $10.9 million.
The Region 19 budget is essentially unaffected by the state budget cut, while the town and its board of education are suffering the consequences.
According to Trahan and Mansfield Town Attorney Kevin Deneen, the contribution is finalized and cannot be changed.
â€śI strongly think that Region 19 should share in this problem and burden as well as the town and the K-8 system,â€ť Deputy Mayor Bill Ryan said. â€śI would urge that we contact Region 19, perhaps all three towns together, and ask them to help us with this problem.â€ť
Trahan said Wednesday that, although the contribution is set, the Region 19 board would have an option to save money to be given back to the Mansfield budget the next year.
That way, Mansfield may be more comfortable dipping into a reserve this year if it knew next year it would have money coming back, Trahan said.
Councilor Virginia Raymond proposed implementing a percentage cut across all departments. Other councilors and staff members were opposed to that suggestion.
The meetingâ€™s packet and all financial information is available on mansfieldct.gov.