By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Borough officials have adopted a 2022-23 budget proposal that increases spending by about 2%, but projects to keep the tax rate the same.
The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and the Board of Finance on Monday approved a $132.2 million budget during a virtual meeting. The proposal increases overall spending by about $2.7 million compared to the current fiscal year.
“I think it’s a fair budget,” Board of Finance Chairman Dan Sheridan said. “I think for the most part all of the party heads and third-party requests came in with a responsible budget with that they needed.”
Officials are anticipating the spending increase will be offset by revenues to keep the tax rate at 47.75 mills. One mill equals $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.
“I expect the mill rate to remain the same,” Sheridan said.
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said officials have produced a balanced budget. The package uses about $1.5 million from the unassigned fund balance as revenue, about $900,000 less than the current budget uses, controller Allyson Bruce said.
The current unassigned fund balance is about $13.5 million, not including some of the money as revenue.
“Our goal is to bring the fund balance up and stop using it as revenue,” Bruce said.
The budget includes about $64.5 million for the Board of Education, up $743,433 compared to current spending. Increases include $957,658 for salaries, $334,859 for purchases services such as buses and fuel, and $409,983 for health care. The school district receives grants and supplemental revenue for a total of $11.2 million, resulting in a total overall school budget of $75.8 million.
A new line item is the school board’s request for a 59th police officer to serve as a new school resource officer at City Hill Middle School due to a rise in delinquent behavior. The borough would allocate 41% and the school board 59% toward the $50,000 cost, Sheridan noted.
The spending plan also contains $104,000 to contract with Naugatuck-based Stokes Counseling Services to provide social work and work with Naugatuck Police Department as needed. The social worker would help with substance abuse, behavioral and emotional issues, and people struggling with housing. The current budget has $30,000 for counseling services to work with police.
Borough officials eliminated several items, including a Naugatuck Event Center freight elevator for $50,000 and $200,000 for sidewalk repairs, and will use pension bond savings to help pay for lease payments to save $2 million from the budget.
“If we did not take those items out of the budget, we would have an additional $2,050,000 of expenses,” Hess said. “One mill is $1,843,606, so the eliminated items I just pointed out saved a potential 1.11-mill increase.”
The borough will hold a hybrid hearing on the budget proposal. Borough officials will present the budget to the public May 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Residents also can access the hearing through Zoom via the borough website, naugatuck-ct.gov, or call 1-646-518-9805 with the code 83358316036# or 1-929-205-6099 with the code 83358316036#.
The joint boards will review the public’s comments and plan to adopt a final budget May 11.