Aldermen See Tax Increase as Probable
It appears that when the final 2014-15 budget is approved by the Common Council in June, residents will see little changes from the Mayor’s proposed 4.88 mill increase which would put the mill rate at 49.08.
Following the public hearing on the budget Monday night Common Council members said much of their views were not changed.
“It seems the impact the Mayor’s Proposed Budget would have, as far as the tax increase and cuts to city services goes, has not really hit folks yet,” said Michael Trueworthy, mayor pro-tem. “It also seems that the impact the Mayor’s proposed budget will have on the schools to has not be felt by the parents yet.”
Trueworthy added that the awareness brought by the Community Service Division was well needed.
Alderman Willie Pabon said the hearing did change his view a little regarding the community services.
“I expected more people to complain about the budget, but I guess people have just given up,” Pabon said. “I don’t foresee drastic changes to the Mayor’s proposed budget. Mayor (Erin) Stewart put together a solid budget that we all could live with. Unfortunately no one wants to see the taxes go up but at this point in time we don’t have a choice.”
The Mayor’s proposed budget is $216,290,616. It includes eliminating 28 positions, and reducing $1.2 million from the fire union to prevent layoffs and debt restructuring. About 56 percent of the budget goes to the Board of Education, but that number has been reset to $118 million.
The mill rate would equate to an increase of about $670 a year or a $56 each month per home owner.
“The public hearing only solidified my view that this present Council must reverse what the last Council did, which was blindly pass a runaway deficit budget, ignored expenditures out of the previous Mayor’s office, and did not hold the Board of Education accountable with regard to the MBR (Minimum Budgetary Requirement),” said Councilman Daniel Salerno. “This budget will have deeper cuts, be more transparent, and more efficient; a major first giant step to righting our City fiscal ship, than any other budget in at least three or four decades. I learned last night that people voted for change, are getting honest, open change with this Mayor and hopefully this Council. Lastly, I will not be intimidated or accused of not caring about our children. Both the City and BOE must get their houses in order, consolidate and cooperate, and increase our Grand List and economically develop New Britain. That is caring about our children. To Cooperate, Consolidate is to Care. And the people may not be speaking, but they are watching.”
Alderman Don Naples said he thought the public hearing was beneficial in that it gave New Britain residents (and some out-of-towners) a chance to express their feelings about education, community services and taxes, among other topics.
“Most comments were well-prepared and delivered with genuine concern. Everyone realizes the financial crisis the City is facing,” said Naples. “I don’t see major changes to the Mayor’s budget, though the Council is looking at several areas for additional cost savings. There will probably be a number of adjustments that over time will produce substantial savings, but I don’t see how a tax increase can be avoided at this point. It’s the Council’s job to keep the increase as low as possible without sacrificing service levels. This is a tall order.”