Tax bills going out as referendum looms

NAUGATUCK — The borough will be sending out tax bills soon, despite not officially having a budget yet for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

In May, borough officials adopted a $119.98 million budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 and set the mill rate at 49.74. Petitions were submitted to force the spending plan to a vote. Though the signatures are still being verified, it’s likely a referendum will be forced.

On June 7, the Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted, 9-1, to send out the first half of the tax bills at 24 mills. The bills are due on July 1. However, they will not be considered late until Aug. 1.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess, who supports a budget referendum in order to buy time to hopefully reduce the mill rate, felt this is the fairest way to move forward and avoid delays.

“This motion [to send out the tax bills at 24 mills] gives us the flexibility to get our taxes out, to make it as accurate as we can at this point in time. It will give us the flexibility to adjust it when we have more information. In a best-case scenario, we will have more information by the end of June or shortly after the first referendum so that we will be in a much better position to evaluate where we really are,” Hess said.

The second round of tax bills will go out in January, after the budget has been set.

“We know the worst case scenario is 49.74 mills,” Hess said.

The mill rate on the second bill will be the difference of the final mill rate minus 24. If the mill rate does not change, the second bill will be for 25.74 mills.

A new state law capped the rate municipalities can tax cars at 37 mills. For Naugatuck taxpayers, it’s a decrease from the 45.57 mills they paid last year.

“That means if a resident has the same vehicle they had last year, they will see a 20 percent decrease in their car tax bill,” Tax Collector James Goggin said.

Goggin said the law means the borough is able to send out tax bills now, without having to wait for the budget to be set.

Goggin urged taxpayers to double check their car tax bills due to problems at the state Department of Motor Vehicles. He said a message of warning will be put on the back of each bill.

“A significant amount of motor vehicle bills have been sent to the wrong tax towns. Check your registration. Naugatuck’s tax town code is 088. If your vehicle was billed from the wrong town, inform your assessor,” the message reads.