The Board of Aldermen passed a $115, 555, 564 budget Tuesday night that will increase Shelton's mill rate while seeing most residential property taxes decrease. This amounts to a nearly $3.7 million increase over the current budget. Overall, Mayor Mark A. Lauretti said that is in a good place, but not immune from the downward economic trend.
This year, all city properties were re-evaluated, and Lauretti explained that whereas in the past there has been a tax burden shift from commercial to residential property owners, now "the burden falls on our corporations." As a result, about 90 percent of residents will have a reduction in their property taxes.
Lauretti said that while he recognizes this is painful for business owners and that "the state of Connecticut and those in our fellow government don't do much in the way of helping aid business in this country," the trend is not unique to Shelton.
"Shelton is right in line with what's happening right in Fairfield County, and even our neighbors: Trumbull, Monroe, Fairfield, Milford, places like that," he said.
Still, the city's mill rate will rise to 22.4 from 18.75.
"You would think, 'Oh boy that's gonna result in more taxes,' but the downgrading of residential properties has made it such that it doesn't have the impact that you might think," aldermanic president John Anglace explained.
Lauretti added that Grand List growth also affects re-evaluation.
"I think it's fair to say that even though our Grand List grew, it was very minimal. That is probably a big plus if you look at other municipalities around the state. We're still in the growing mode. I think that next year will be a lot better in terms of our Grand List growth, and I know that the year after is gonna be even better, just because of some of the things that are already in progress, like the Avalon project and other projects that are in zoning right now that are gonna give us a nice shot in the arm."
Some of the BOA's major expenditure changes from and the recommendations are as follows:
- Road maintenance: $1 million increase
- Public communications: $7,000 increase
- Worker's compensation: $100,000 increase
- Recycling: $500,000 increase
- : $36,627 increase
- Library supplies: $2,000 increase
- Youth programs: $200,000 increase
- : $2,400 increase
- Long Hill Cemetery: $2,000 increase
As for the $1 million increase in funding for road maintenance, Lauretti explained that the city has bonded money that will be utilized.
"I will be suggesting to the Board that there is possibly a referendum to be had for more road money for next year because the issue of roads will never go away, ever, in any community," he said.
Lauretti also explained the reason for the $500,000 increase in recycling is that Shelton will be transitioning to .
"The city is, for the first time, going to be purchasing its own equpiment," he said, referring to cans, bins and transport vehicles. "These are one-time capital items that will probably disappear from the budget next year."
Anglace did not have a formal budget message, but did say that "not too much has changed over the past several years," and he hopes people will find that this budget "responds to their need to cope with economic conditions" in the community, state and country.
"I think once again we've shown that Shelton can respond to the situation and we've been working together, we can get through all our problems with it--perceived or real," he said.
Editor's note: The BOE's budget increase has been updated to reflect actual monetary gain for the department. BOE member Arlene Liscinsky pointed out that Lauretti recommended a reduction of $500,000 to the present budget, "which would have put us under the legal monthly budget report, and have legal ramifications to the city. All the BOA really did was give us 36,637", she said.