Voting for the 2011-2012 town and school budgets is drawing closer and preliminary estimates by the Board of Finance show a tax increase for residents.

The tax increase is expected to be around 4 to 4.5 percent which would mean an increase in the current mill rate to 12.21 from the current 11.74.

The figures represent the total assessed value of taxable property in Darien which is $8,746,869,799. BOF Chairman Liz Mao said the increase is better than the original 7 to 8 percent increase the town was looking at but it was still higher than the desired rate.

Mao initially proposed setting the collection rate at 99 percent, but after discussion the Board settled on a compromise of 98.75 percent, which is still higher than previous years. In 2009 the town had a collection rate of 98.3 percent and this year saw a rate of 98.5 percent.

However, there is still room for the numbers to change as the BOF considers the schools' $76.2 million budget request. BOF member Murray Stegelmann asked if another $200,000 could be cut from the budget but Vice Chairman Martha Banks said a cut of that size couldn't be made without seriously impacting the schools' ability to operate.

Also up for discussion was the Board of Education's capital projects budget. Some of the projects that were approved were re-piping the Ox Ridge boiler room, replacing a dump truck that is 16 years old and renovating a portable classroom at Ox Ridge.

However, a number of projects were also deferred, which included $200,000 to install energy management controls at Royle, external PA systems and planting trees at Darien High School to help block light from the portable lights that are used during football season.

BOE Chairman Kim Westcott updated the BOF on the projected deficit for this year. Westcott said the board was initially preparing for a deficit of $477,000 but the actual deficit would be around $408,000.