NAUGATUCK — About 50 residents came out for a public hearing Tuesday night to make their feelings known on the borough’s proposed 2014-15 budget.
The proposed budget is $115.6 million, which is an increase of $4.68 million, or 4.23 percent, over the current budget. The municipal budget is $54.2 million, an increase of $2.8 million or 5.56 percent. The Board of Education budget is $61.3 million, an increase of $1.8 million or 3.07 percent.
Under the budget, the mill rate would increase 0.61 mills to 45.41 mills.
The mill rate is the amount of taxes payable on the assessed value of a home. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. Under a 45.41 mill rate, a home assessed at $150,000 will pay $6,811.50 in taxes, an increase of $91.50 over current taxes.
The Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses will meet Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall to review the budget one final time and adopt it. The budget can be forced to a referendum through a petition.
On Tuesday, many residents voiced their concern over the tax increase, pointing out that Naugatuck has the third highest mill rate in the state behind Waterbury and Hartford.
“I don’t care how you do it, but you have got to stop raising our taxes. The people of Naugatuck simply can not afford to pay an increase. We’re already the third highest taxpayers in the state. Just because you get a wish list from the various departments does not mean we have to be Santa Claus,” resident Shirley Anderson said.
Resident Lois Pompano said people on fixed incomes will struggle to pay their taxes.
“I hope your going to send out an instruction sheet with the taxes this year to seniors, those on fixed incomes, and those families struggling about how on earth we are going to pay this outrageous increase,” Pompano said.
Resident Catherine Mieth said raising the mill rate will force businesses from the borough and leave residents to bear the tax burden.
“You can’t keep raising the mill rate. Businesses are going to keep leaving,” Mieth said. “I just want to know how many jobs I have to work in order to pay my taxes.”
Aside from the increase, residents also spoke out against a move to severe ties with the Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association.
Resident and VNA employee Karen Kish said she was upset that she and approximately 20 other employees would be losing their jobs.
“As a taxpayer $80 million going to the school system really upsets me when we couldn’t support the VNA. I love the VNA,” Kish said.
Resident Robert Matusz, a doctor who has worked with the VNA for many years, said when other nursing organizations come in they won’t know the borough the same way that the VNA did.
Still other residents came out to ask for more money for the Whittemore Library. The library’s operating budget has been flat-funded for the past seven years.
Resident James Friss said he uses the library’s services a few times a week and has noticed it has tried to cut back on items such as newspapers and magazines.
“I think they are really trying, but I think they also need to have a budget increase,” Friss said.
Joy Macdonald, a resident and substitute staff at the library, said there is not a day that goes by where someone does not apply for a new card or renew an existing card.
“The library is being used. People do still read,” Macdonald said.
Alec Wargo, who had voiced his criticism of a variety of increases in the budget throughout the evening, spoke in favor of giving the library more money.
“It’s probably the best and most important resource the community has as far as serving everybody,” Wargo said.