Just a handful of residents turned out Tuesday night to hear the city’s presentation of its proposed and just six of them spoke on the spending plan.
The sat at a table on the auditorium’s stage looking out at a nearly empty auditorium in the where fewer than 20 people turned out for the hearing.
The first four people to speak made no specific recommendations on the budget, but railed at the council about issues ranging from the $80 fee the city charges residents to dispose of bulky wastes to the possiblity of the world coming to an end soon.
“Don’t laugh, it’s gonna happen,” one of the speakers told the bemused council.
The other two speakers made brief but specific presentations.
Don Heckler, of Gracie Lane, told public officials that he was disappointed in the way the budget process played out this year. He said he was unhappy that the council at Tuesday night’s hearing took comments, but did not answer questions. Prior to the hearing, he said, residents were not allowed to speak during finance committee meetings on the budget. The process, Heckler said, provided little information or give-and-take between elected officials and their constituents.
Marisol Estrada-Soto, co-chair of the Meriden , asked the council to increase by a half of one percent the Board of Eduation’s $104 million budget request. While the school system’s budget proposal is $4.5 million higher than the current year’s budget, Estrada-Soto said that increase would only allow the district to sustain its current level of services. Adding a half percent more to the budget, she said, would allow school officials to make significant improvements in the district.
“We would like to see our city councilors step forward and give our schools a bit more than just enough to sustain” programs, she said. “We would like to see them improve. Meriden children deserve more than just sustaining. We as parents want more for our children.”
The council is expected to approve a final budget by next month.