Borough joint boards adopt $129.5M budget

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

NAUGATUCK — The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and the Board of Finance on May 12 adopted a $129.5 million budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

The budget increases overall spending by about $2.4 million, or 1.89%, over this fiscal year, but doesn’t raise taxes.

Following the joint boards meeting, the Board of Mayor and Burgesses unanimously voted to set the tax rate at 47.75 mills — the same level as this fiscal year — for 2021-22.

The tax rate is the amount of taxes payable on the assessed value of property. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. Under a 47.75 tax rate, property taxes on a home assessed at $100,000 are $4,775.

In a subsequent interview, Board of Finance Chairman Dan Sheridan said the joint boards worked well together to craft a budget that met the needs of the community while not spending money on “nice-to-have items.”

“The budget is structurally very sound,” Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said in a subsequent interview.

Hess said the budget continues improving the borough’s infrastructure and stabilizes the tax rate.

During the meeting, Hess said the key to reducing the tax rate is increasing revenues through economic development. He pointed to a planned transit-oriented development project on Parcel B downtown and the proposed “Port of Naugatuck,” which are both in the developmental stages.

Residents can force a referendum on the budget by getting at least 8% of Naugatuck voters to sign petitions. The deadline to submit petitions is May 26 at 4 p.m. Last year, the state suspended in-person budget votes and referendums due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The budget allocates $63.7 million for the Board of Education after the joint boards moved $900,000 of insurance costs from the school budget to the municipal budget. The joint boards moved the same amount last year.

Shifting the funds had no impact on the overall budget. It allows borough officials to limit a school budget increase to avoid setting a higher minimum school spending requirement. The $63.7 million school budget is an increase of $779,700, or about 1.2%, over this year.

The budget uses about $2.4 million from the fund balance, or surplus, as revenue to balance the budget. This is $909,800 less than the current budget uses as revenue.

The spending plan includes $30,000 to contract with a firm to provide social work services and work with the Naugatuck Police Department as needed.

There is $1.6 million worth of capital projects in the budget, including $102,000 for a computer replacement plan, $100,000 for a phone system upgrade and $50,400 for a plow and sander truck.