At its last meeting, Darien’s Board of Finance made the decision to delay its budget process by one month, taking advantage of the governor’s new guidelines.

The date for the RTM vote on the budget will now be June 10.

The Board of Finance will vote on the budget and set the mill rate at its May 14 meeting. However, the mill rate will be officially set June 10, once the RTM votes.

At the meeting, held on March 17, there was a unanimous motion to approve the budget calendar as revised by Darien’s Finance Director Jennifer Charneski.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the governor has recently issued guidelines that delay decision-making on the 2020-21 budget by 30 days. In light of that, Charneski worked up a new calendar, based on what the governor’s revised guidance provides.

According to Board of Finance Chairman Jon Zagrodzky, in a conversation with The Darien Times, “the RTM has the authority to reduce, but not increase, spending as part of its final appropriation vote in June, which, if they do, would reduce the mill rate set by the Board of Finance,” he said.

In addition, Zagrodzky said the new schedule won’t delay the budget schedule through the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.

New dates

The original date for the RTM budget vote was May 11. The Board of Finance has delayed this to June 10.

The Board of Finance’s recommended budget now won’t get published until May 28, instead of April 30.

“We don’t have to turn over the budget for the town clerk until May 21, instead of April 21,” Zagrodzky said.

“We are going to push back our budget discussions and deliberations by a month,” he said.

According to Zagrodzky, that will do the following:

1- It gives the Board of Finance more time to work on the budgets themselves.

2- It gives them more time to collaborate with the RTM.

3- It gives officials more time to pose questions.

Zagrodzky said that, hopefully, the additional time “gets us to a little further down the road where we can have more public discussions, and maybe things will loosen up a little bit in terms of discussions that are easily watched and easily participated in by the public.”

According to the revised schedule, the Board of Finance will cancel three scheduled meetings that are budget work sessions — on March 24, March 31 and April 2.

The new dates will be May 5, May 7 and May 12.

The next Board of Finance meeting will be a regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 14.

“In my judgment, that gives us enough time to do our reviews and to be able to have a regular meeting on May 14,” Zagrodzky said. “At that meeting, we would set the mill rate. That process takes the approved budget and gets it into the RTM.”

Watch the full Board of Finance meeting on Darien TV79.