Council sets mill rate

PROSPECT — Property owners will pay more in taxes in the next fiscal year.

The Town Council approved a mill rate of 28.98 mills for the 2014-15 fiscal year at its meeting June 3. The mill rate is an increase of 0.9 mills or 3.2 percent over the current tax rate. The mill rate for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, is 28.08 percent. One mill equals $1 per $1,000 in assessed value of a property.

With the new mill rate the average taxpayer, whose home is assessed at $175,000, will pay $5,072 in taxes next year or $158 more. The assessed value is 70 percent of the actual value of a home.

The increase in the mill rate is one of the largest in recent years, but it affords some improved services including at the library, the senior center, the parks and opening of the transfer station in the winter. The town needs to spend more for police including for its resident trooper, new equipment including pagers for its volunteer fire department and more money for snow and ice removal.

The town’s $29,685,089 budget for fiscal year 2014-15 includes Prospect’s portion of the school budget for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. The Region 16 2014-15 budget is $39.7 million, Prospect’s share is $22,117,025.

According to Chairman Thomas Galvin, education accounts for $109 of the increase to the average tax bill.

The mill rate increase comes after years of much smaller increases, including one year when the town saw a decrease, Galvin said.

The council was much more confident in setting a mill rate this year, after municipal and educations budgets passed the first time at referendums last month. Last year, there were six referendums, three per each budget. Also the legislature approved the state budget, including what each town will get in state aid, Galvin said.

“Getting those done early was very good,” Galvin said.

Mayor Robert Chatfield described the increase as modest when based on what he’s seen in area towns. He thanked the council for its hard work on the budget, adding he will look at taxpayers’ money as if it’s his own.

“I treat every nickel like it’s my own,” he said. “Everyone knows I’m very cheap.”

Chatfield said officials are working on getting the tax bills to the printer and mailed out.

Luke Marshall contributed to this article.

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