Joint boards adopt $110.9 million budget

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Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo, right, discusses the budget Thursday night as Board of Finance Chairman Diane Scinto, left listens. The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and Finance adopted a $110.9 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo, right, discusses the budget Thursday night as Board of Finance Chairman Diane Scinto, left listens. The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and Finance adopted a $110.9 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

NAUGATUCK — After some final tweaks, the Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and Finance adopted a $110.9 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year Thursday night.

The budget is an increase of $3.3 million, or 3.08 percent over the current year’s budget.

The mill rate was set at 44.8 mills, which is an increase of 11.25 mills over the current mill rate of 33.65. This means a tax rate of $44.80 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

Board of Finance Chairman Diane Scinto said the size of the mill rate increase was due to the recent revaluation.

The revaluation decreased the net grand list by 23 percent. After revaluation, property values in the borough dropped 26 percent overall. Generally, homes that lost more than 25 percent of their value will see lower taxes, while homes with values that depreciated less than 25 percent will see higher taxes.

The mill rate increase will be felt especially on motor vehicle taxes and commercial properties. The value of commercial property decreased on average by just 2 percent.

Had the revaluation not taken place the mill rate would have increased less than 1 mill, Scinto said.

The Board of Education budget is $59.4 million, an increase of $1.39 million or 2.4 percent over the current budget.

The general government budget is $51.5 million, an increase of $1.9 million or 3.87 percent over the current budget.

The joint boards removed roughly $500,000 from the proposed budget that went to a public hearing Monday night.

About $103,000 was reduced from the school budget’s increase.

Robert Butler, assistant business manager for the school board, told the joint boards the savings come from a switch in dental insurance carriers, a bus contract extension that was less expensive than originally planned for and revised projections indicating lower rates for natural gas.

The joint boards were split as to whether this was enough of a decrease in the Board of Education’s budget.

Board of Finance member Matthew Katra proposed cutting another $100,000 from the increase. He said the school board would still be able to accomplish most of what was in its budget even if the $100,000 was removed.

The joint boards can not control how the school board spends its funds, only the bottom line figure spent on education.

After debating Katra’s proposal, the joint boards voted to accept the $1.39 million increase by a vote of 9 to 7.

On the municipal side, the joint boards removed $325,000 from the road resurfacing fund under the reserve fund in anticipation of going out to bond for a larger road project.

Controller Wayne McAllister added the employee pension fund could be lowered by approximately $88,000 based on a presentation of the borough’s pension assets.

The only place where the joint boards actually added money into the budget was for the Whittemore Memorial Library.

The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and Finance adopted a $110.9 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year Thursday night. -LUKE MARSHALL
The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and Finance adopted a $110.9 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year Thursday night. -LUKE MARSHALL

The joint boards added $18,000 into the reserve fund for capital projects at the library, bringing the total up to $23,000 for the library.
During Monday’s public hearing several residents urged the joint boards to increase funding for the library.

The library receives about 80 percent of its funding from the borough but is not directly a borough department. The library’s allocation in the operating budget is $577,000, the same figure the library has received for the past several years. The increase in the reserve fund will free up operational money for the library.

Board of Finance member Dan Sheridan favored the increase for library projects because of how many people requested it during the public hearing and because the library is a resource for all residents.

“Everybody has a chance to use [the library]. We support a lot of things in this town that are focused on specific people, whether it’s the senior center, the golf course, or whatever. Here you have an operation that everybody, no matter what age group or whatever demographic they happen to be from or economic tier, can use it and use it for however much time they want to use it,” Sheridan said. “If we want to support education I think we need to support the library.”

Mayor Robert Mezzo said the budget process this year was more difficult than usual due to the revaluation and uncertainty in Hartford.

“I thought it was more difficult than normal given the fact we had the first implementation of a revaluation since 2007 in addition to a lot of uncertainty about municipal aid coming from Hartford,” Mezzo said.

Naugatuck is losing about $600,000 in state grants, according to Mezzo’s calculations.

Mezzo said the joint boards made decisions in the budget that would hopefully put Naugatuck in better shape in the future.

“The reason we deliberated for the past four months is to pass a responsible budget that minimizes impacts to taxpayers while addressing the short and long term needs of the borough,” Mezzo said.

Residents have until May 31 to present the borough with a petition to send the budget to a referendum vote. To send the budget to referendum a petition needs to have signatures from at least 8 percent, or 1,398, of the borough’s registered voters.