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Norwalk Faces Tough Budget Decisions

The proposed $299.3 million operating budget — representing a 3.9 percent increase over the current budget — assumes that the city will be outsourcing garbage collection at a savings of about $316,000.

Faced with “unsustainable” costs, including a 21 percent increase in health insurance premiums and a 27 percent increase in pension fund obligations, ’s finance director, Thomas S. Hamilton, has reportedly suggested closing the and outsourcing garbage collection in an effort to hold down the increase in the proposed 2012-2013 city budget, which was unveiled on Monday.

According to a report in The Hour of Norwalk, Hamilton presented the $299.3 million operating budget — representing a 3.9 percent increase over the current budget — to the city’s tax board for initial review. School spending would increase by 3.5 percent and city spending by 3.3 percent under the proposed budget, according to the report.

The recommended budget assumes that the city will be outsourcing garbage collection at a savings of about $316,000, Hamilton said in the report. He said outsourcing garbage collection would not require the city to layoff workers (however considering that the majority of the cost of the service is labor, it is unclear where the $316,000 in savings comes from).

Closing the Norwalk Museum and eliminating the curator's position would save the city $216,395, Hamilton said in the report. He said because the museum at 41 North Main Street only draws 1,500 to 3,000 visitors per year, it doesn’t justify the expense of keeping it operating, according to the report.

The unveiling of the proposed budget marks the start of the 2012 budget season. Over the next several months the Norwalk Board of Estimate and Taxation will work with various town boards and departments to formulate the city's 2012-13 operating budget.

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