STAMFORD, Conn. - For his first budget, Stamford Mayor David Martin presented the Board of Finance with a budget increase of $22.3 million and a mill rate increase of 4.92 percent for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
"I am not happy with that increase," Martin said of the increase to 24.89 mills during his budget presentation Monday. "I don't believe anyone will be."
But the increase is due to adding 14 new or reinstated employees who were either mandated or needed to fulfill federal mandates as well as unfunded liabilities and structural costs to the city's spending.
The total operating budget Martin presented totals $515.4 million, an increase over last year's budget of $493.1 million.
The grand list increased 0.88 percent, he said, increasing revenue to $166.5 million.
One of Martin's proposals is to take on the unfunded liabilities that have taken up the time of departments across the city, something that he says has only been talked about previously.
"I intend to stop talking about it and do something about it," Martin said. To do that, he has begun department audits to find inefficiencies. The city started with the Human Resources Department with the help of several professors at Sacred Heart University.
The city will also begin to audit medical benefit plans to ensure that employees are getting what they are entitled to, Martin said.
The new mayor is also looking at the workweek of many of its employees. "Much of this city believes that 35 hours counts as a work week," he said. If city employees work only 35 hours a week, the city is paying 17 percent more than it needs to, he said.
Martin said he reviewed budget requests from departments and is making cuts in most of the requests.
The budget plan from Martin requests $59.7 million for the police department, up from the $55.1 million budgeted for 2013-14.
The volunteer fire departments are being rolled into the main Stamford Fire Department budget, which pushes the requested budget to $48.3 million, up from the current budget of $41.6 million, he said.