At Wednesday's Public Hearing regarding the revised $14.89 million town budget, much of the same comments were stated by many of the same folks who spoke at the first public hearing.
The town budget, which was decreased by $150,000 by the Board of Finance, goes to its second referendum vote on May 23. The vote will be held at from 6am to 8pm. Absentee ballots are only available in person from the town clerk's office.
At the public hearing held May 16, about 20 residents rose to speak about a variety of subjects including the library.
Not all were enamored with the and its proposed budget.
Peggy Adler said she was not happy with the library's representatives at the May 14 Board of Finance meeting after the police chief relinquished $32,000 from his budget to offset funds slated to be cut from receptionist Bonnie Pudem's salary. (As part of the $150,000 in cuts, Pudem's full-time position is to be reduced to part-time with no benefits.)
"I had thought that perhaps this additional give back by the Police Department might be used to increase at least some of the hours anticipated being cut from Bonnie’s timecard," said Adler. "And thus I was shocked by the arrogance and greed of the posse that was present from the Henry Carter Hull Library when they asked that the additional $3,000 being relinquished by the PD be given to them."
Others felt that the library could withstand additional cuts.
"The library provides a very valuable service, but $13,000 was reasonable as a cut. Everyone needs to sacrifice," said Richard Dondero.
Phil Sengle reminded folks that the library "is getting $723,000, everything short of $2,000 that they asked for."
Others such as Nancy Coughlin and Mimi Hanson Logan defended the award-winning library saying "it put the little town of Clinton on the map" and provides so many services to people of all ages.
Others defended 25-year town employee Bonnie Pudem's position, slated to be cut in hours and salary, such as Jane Nettleton, Rich Onofrio and Adler.
"So here we are tonight, with a valued, member of our town hall staff being cut below a livable wage while the HCH personnel could care less," summarized Adler.
Many others said the tax burden was getting too much for them to swallow.
"It's clear the taxpayers in this town have said enough is enough," said Kirk Carr.
"Let's take a real bite, not a nibble, out of the budget and have the damn thing pass," said Art Kover.
Several folks asked about a surplus in the Board of Education (BOE) budget and why those funds could not be applied to the proposed town budget.
Chairman of the Board of Finance Bradford Sullivan said "we won't know what the audited surplus of the BOE is until the end of this calendar year."
He reiterated that "no one is hiding any surpluses from anyone."
The most moving commentary came from Rich Onofrio, long-time member of Clinton Rotary Club who struggled to say that after 33 years of living in Clinton, he has to sell his house and move in order to afford to retire.