Mayor encourages voters to reject budget


Referendum on tap for Naugatuck municipal, school spending plans

NAUGATUCK — Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess has a message for voters who don’t want to see a 4 mill increase: head to the polls.

“They have a choice of a mill rate of 49.74 or one that is reduced by approximately 2 mills,” Hess said.

A referendum on the proposed 2016-17 municipal and school budgets is set for July 12. Voting will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Naugatuck Senior Center, 300 Meadow St. Anyone who needs a ride to the senior center can call 203-806-0588 and leave a message

Voters will be asked to vote ‘yes,’ ‘no: too high’ or ‘no: too low’ on the municipal and school budgets.

The proposed $58.2 million municipal budget is a $4.71 million increase, or 8.55 percent, over the 2015-16 budget. The proposed school budget is flat at $61.6 million.

Combined, the 2016-17 budget is $119.98 million. The proposed budget increases the mill rate 4.17 mills, or about 9 percent, from 45.57 to 49.74.

One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. Under a 49.74 mill rate, a home assessed at $150,000 will pay $7,461 in taxes, an increase of $625.

The budget was adopted in May. Following adoption of the budget, Hess encouraged residents to force a referendum through petitions in order to buy more time to resolve issues with Veolia North America, which runs the borough’s wastewater treatment plant.

Veolia shut down the incinerator at the plant and stopped paying rent to the borough in April due to concerns about facing violations for not meeting federal mandates to reduce the amount of pollutants emitted. The 2016-17 budget proposal, as it stands now, supposes no revenue from the rent paid by Veolia. The company pays approximately $4 million a year in rent.

The borough recently reached an agreement with Veolia.

Hess said adding the rent back into the budget would decrease the proposed mill increase by approximately 2.5 mills to 47.24. He encouraged all residents to vote against the municipal budget so the revenue can be added in and the mill rate adjusted.

In order for the referendum to be considered valid, at least 15 percent of registered voters, approximately 2,573, need to cast their vote.

If not enough voters show up or they vote in favor of the municipal budget, the borough would move forward with the proposed 49.74 mill rate. The revenue from Veolia’s rent can’t be put in if the municipal budget passes.

“We would have excess funds on hand and we will have to determine exactly how to deal with that,” Hess said.

Hess said the borough might consider sending out a refund, but thinks it would be easier if this budget failed at the referendum.

“I would rather have the budget voted down, reset it at an accurate number, and move forward in a more normal fashion,” Hess said.