Voters reject town budget

Beacon Falls voters line up to receive their ballots during a town meeting May 31 to vote on the town budget at Laurel Ledge Elementary School. The budget was rejected, 200 to 90. –LUKE MARSHALL


BEACON FALLS — Residents last week overwhelmingly rejected the proposed 2017-18 municipal budget by more than a two-to-one margin at a town meeting.

The proposed $6.82 million town budget was voted down with 200 residents voting against it and 90 residents voting for it. The proposal would have increased municipal spending by $522,326, or 7.9 percent, over this fiscal year’s municipal budget.

The town budget doesn’t include the spending for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. In May, voters in the region approved a $40.9 million school budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year that increases education spending by $404,934, or about 1 percent, over this year’s school budget.

The school budget combined with the proposed town budget would have increased the town’s mill rate by 3.1 mills, or 9.4 percent, from 32.9 mills to 36 mills. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

The majority of the increase in the mill rate comes from a loss of revenue due to a drop in the grand list from a recent revaluation of property.

Due to the revaluation, the town’s 2016 net grand list decreased $25.1 million, or 5.12 percent, to $464.4 million. A municipality’s grand list is a tabulation of the assessed values of real estate, personal property and motor vehicles.

A mill rate increase of 1.9 mills is needed to offset the loss of revenue in the grand list.

For the majority of residents in the town who saw a drop in their home values this portion of the mill rate increase will have little to no effect on their taxes. However, in Chatfield Farms, a 55 and older community off of Skokorat Road, the revaluation increased the assessment of homes, meaning that residents in the community are facing significant increases in their tax bill.

Residents of Chatfield Farms, such as Irene Vesely, turned out in force at the town meeting to show their disproval of the budget.

“It’s very unfair. We are on a fixed income and we are already helping with school taxes that are too high,” Vesely said.

Vesely said the town wasn’t entirely at fault and laid some of the blame on Gov. Dannell Malloy, whose proposed two-year state budget would increase costs to the town.

“Beacon Falls is in a bad situation. A lot of people are saying they are going to move out,” Vesely said.

Chatfield Farms resident Phyllis Coppolella echoed Vesely’s comments.

“I think it is very unfair. That’s why I am here tonight, to vote ‘no,’” Coppolella said. “I think they need to hear the people who have had all their values and assessments go up.”

The Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen are scheduled to meet Monday to review spending and propose a new budget.

Following the town meeting, Board of Finance Chairman Joe Rodorigo said everything is on the table.