RTM overwhelmingly approves budget, MISA gets fresh approval

The Representative Town Meeting (RTM) gathered Monday night to approve the 2014-15 municipal budget, but its members mostly had MISA on the mind.

The budget itself passed by a huge margin with 185 in favor and 23 opposed with four abstentions, but it was not the final vote of the night. Rather that honor went to the $9.8 million funding request for the Greenwich High School music instructional space and auditorium project better known as MISA. The vote on that was a lot tighter, with funding going forward by a 118 to 92 margin with one abstension after more than an hour of debate.

Several motions to cut the total $427 million budget package were heard throughout the close to five-hour meeting but all of them failed. Members of the body attempted to reduce funding for the school district’s digital learning initiaitve, the Byram Park master plan that includes a new municipal pool, the park at the former site of the Cos Cob Power Plant and a modernization of the town’s form of handling payroll through the Department of Human Resources. Funding was retained by comfortable margins for all of those budget items with the closest vote coming for the Cos Cob park, which had 116 in favor of the funding and 86 wanting to cut.

But it was MISA that dominated the discussion at the end of the night with more than 45 signing up to speak about it, though far less actually ended up speaking as the meeting stretched past its fourth hour. First Selectman Peter Tesei, Board of Education Chairman Leslie Moriarty, Superintendent of Schools William McKersie and Selectman Drew Marzullo all campaigned the RTM to vote for it and in the end the project supporters won the night. Ms. Moriarty said that a delay in funding would essentially kill the project in its current form.

Members of the RTM in favor of the cut cited the growing costs for the project, which had bids for construction come in higher than expected, as well as the town’s growing debt. Proponents countered saying the project had been delayed for too long and that it was an investment in future generations of the town.

More details will be available in the May 16 edition of the Post.


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