Ansonia Aldermen approve $850,000 settlement, now its up to Board of Ed
ANSONIA — The Board of Alderman gave their approval to a proposed settlement that will add $850,000 to the school board’s 2018-19 budget and end both a Superior Court lawsuit and a state Board of Education investigation.
The settlement was approved by a 9-2 vote from the 11 alderman who discussed and debated the settlement for nearly four and a half hours Monday night in executive session.
“Many of us had reservations but in the end the majority wanted to move forward and put this beyond us,” said Lorie Vaccaro, a second ward alderman and president of the board. “It’s important that the city, its aldermen and its school board improve their lines of communication and start working together for the kids and for the taxpayers.”
First Ward Alderman Charles Stowe and Third Ward Aldermen Domenic Filippone cast the dissenting votes. Two aldermen—Phil Tripp (R-2) and Kevin O’Brien (R-6) , both outspoken education supporters—did not attend the meeting. A third-Frank DeLibro, (R-7), is recuperating from a serious illness.
Now its up to the Board of Education to add their approval or rejection of the proposed settlement drafted following two days of mediation in front of retired Superior Court Judge Robert Holzberg.
William Nimons, who chairs the school board said they will meet Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. in the lower portion of the Robert C. Zuraw Administration complex on Grove Street. Nimons declined to comment on the proposed settlement until after his board meets.
If approved, the settlement will add $850,000 to the 2018-19 budget. Under the proposal the 2019-20 budget will include $800,000 which under the state’s minimum budget requirement law can not be removed from future school board budgets.
Mayor David Cassetti again denied he will raise taxes to fund the settlement cost which amounts to at least one mill.
“We got a lot of things in the hopper,” the mayor said. “But I’m not raising taxes.”
It is believed the city has set aside funds and could also dip into the rainy day fund.
In exchange for this the proposal the school board must authorize the city’s insurance broker to analyze claims information to evaluate insurance costs and options.
This has been an issue between the two sides particularly after a recent audit determined the school board overspent its 2017-18 budget by $225,694 mostly for underestimating insurance costs.
It also requires the school board to provide the city with budgetary and financial information as well as implement a shared modern financial platform to replace their current software.
“These are three big items that will enable the city and the Board of Education to work together and do what’s best for the teachers, the students and the taxpayers,” said John P. Marini, the corporation counsel.
Marini said purchasing and implementing a shared financial platform could take “two-to-three years...But in the end they will be able to see our books and we can see theirs.”