UPDATE at 10:15 a.m. FRIDAY
East Haven Town Council members approved the town's 2012-13 budget Thursday night with calls for a need to put aside political partisanship — and work together for the good of the town in what are still trying economic times.
The new budget — which was passed virtually unchanged from Mayor Maturo Jr's — will go into effect July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
"I'm not sure if this is my 15th or 16th budget, but this has been the most difficult," councilmen Fred Parlato, a Republican, said prior to the board's vote Thursday.
"This is a realistic budget we all have to live with… we have to work together, we have to forget about political division and work past partisanship," he said.
Councilmen Robert Parente, a Republican, echoed Parlato's remarks.
"I truly believe that no one wore a hat that had Democrat or Republican on it," Parente said of the council's budget development process.
He added that with a $300 million loss in town grand list assets due to the town's recent revaluation, the budget is also a fiscally sound one.
"This budget is fair to the taxpayers," Parente said.
Town Council Chairman Richard Anania agreed.
"This is a good budget," Anania said.
Joseph Santino, a Democrat, said he was not able to attend all of this month's budget workshops. So, he worked closely with Town Finance Director Paul Rizza to make sure he was up to speed on the process.
"I need to thank him for that," Santino said of Rizza.
He added that this year's budget process was a "tough" one for the council.
"We really did try with this budget, we did what we could do," he said.
Paul Carbo, a Republican, said he felt the council took a "proactive rather than reactive" approach to developing the budget.
"We are all here working together as one," Carbo said.
But not all of the council members were in favor of the new budget.
Joseph Badamo, a Democrat, was the lone board vote against the budget.
"I want to know where the 17 percent roll back is," Badamo said, referring to the tax decrease reportedly promised by current during last fall's election campaign.
He then voted "No" on the budget.
Of the three members of the residents who spoke during public comment prior to the council's vote, only one was critical of new town budget.
Thomas Thompson, the town finance director under former Mayor April Capone, also asked council members if the budget included the tax rollback.
"This doesn't include the 17 percent roll back," Thompson told the board. "What about the roll back?"
"The mayor lied in his campaign," he said, repeating it once more and raising his voice over calls from other residents who were angered by his words.
The next to speak from the public was former longtime council member Ken McCay.
"For the first time in 13 years I'm on this side," he said, referring to his for re-election last fall.
McCay then thanked all the town council members and Town Hall staff "for creating such a frugal and realistic budget."
"One that we'll be able to live with, so we won't have to be doing a lot of transfers later in the (fiscal) year," he said.
The third and final member of the public to speak was Republican Town Committee Chairman .
"This is a good budget. All 15 of you did a good job over the past month," said. "You did what you had to do with the situation with the economy."
"The only thing I ask you to do is vote with your conscious not politically," he said. "We're all taxpayers in the town."
ORIGINAL STORY (Thursday at 9 p.m.)
After an additional two days, the East Haven Town Council approved a 2012-13 town budget of $86,708,754.
Council members also set the town's new mill rate at 30.95.
The budget and mill rate were approved by a 13-1 vote at a special meeting Thursday night at the Senior Center. Council member Joseph Badamo cast the lone dissenting vote.
The new budget represents a spending increase of 1.68 percent, or $1,433,084 over the town's . This includes an additional $500,000 — a 1.13 percent increase — for the Board of Education in the new fiscal year.
The town council's approved 2012-13 budget, which includes line item comparisons, is posted in the gallery that accompanies this article.