The upcoming budget process in Mansfield was the focus of the Finance Committee and Town Council meeting on Monday.
BlumShapiro, a certified public accounting firm based out of West Hartford, gave a project status update. BlumShapiro was tasked with reviewing the financial and operational controls of the Mansfield finance department.
When conducting research, BlumShapiro compared Mansfield to various towns around Connecticut such as Newtown and Plainville that had similar characteristics, such as general budget, population, and number of finance employees.
They found in their primary report that Mansfield provides the highest number of services to various entities compared to the other towns they gathered data from, but has the second lowest number of finance employees. BlumShapiro recommended adding another accounting position to the financial department.
BlumShapiro also advised the Finance Committee that when reporting the population size for future projects, the Town Council should include the population of the University of Connecticut because having a university makes financial decisions unique from towns that do not contain a university.
The Town Council meeting afterwards also addressed upcoming budget concerns, but instead focused on the 4 percent budget increase proposed by the Board of Education.
Mansfield residents who have children currently in the school system, children who attend Mansfield public schools and residents who work in the school system took up every seat and lined the walls.
The first hour and a half of the meeting was spent allowing the public to address the Town Council, the majority being people who were in favor of an increase in the school budget.
Citizens expressed several concerns, citing that although the proposed school budget had a 4 percent increase after five years of zero percent growth, it cuts a language arts and mathematics consultant position. Teachers who work in the Mansfield school system also said that keeping class sizes small is crucial to the education of children, and many children advocated for fine arts programs that were in danger of being cut.
Some Mansfield residents were concerned with a potential increase in the school budget. One person claimed that spending in schools is not a good predictor of school success, because if that was the case, “then Washington D.C. would have the best schools in the country.”