Editor's Note: The town has suggested that the following example might better represent the equation for the proposed mill rate of 29.36.
"Reassessment caused property values to decrease approximately 15%. Given that assumption, in 2011 with a mill rate at 23 mills, a homeowner whose property was assessed at $176,000, paid $4048 in taxes. The 2012 Assessment for that same home would likely be $150,000 and using the proposed mill rate of 29.36 mills, the tax would be $4,404 - an increase of $356 in taxes."
For many property owners this is the bottom line: What will their tax bill look like compared to last fiscal year? And for many this question follows: What is the town spending that money on?
And tonight, residents will have the chance to add their two cents to the debate, albeit in less than three minutes.
Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr. and the Montville Town Council are poised to adopt not just the town’s $55,718,440 million budget, but also an $11.8 million five-year capital improvement plan at its special budget hearing set for 6 p.m. at Montville High School. It remains to be seen if the school’s auditorium was the right size venue; some have said the public will turn out to oppose the budget, one McDaniel compared to a budget airline.
“(It’s) the Southwest of budgets,” he wrote in his budget summary, “(it) moves us forward …(as) affordable as possible.”
The Bottom Line
If McDaniel’s recommended budget is adopted, property owners are looking at a mill rate of 29.36, a 6.36 increase over last fiscal year’s rate. A property owner whose house is assessed at $150,000 is looking at a $4,404 tax bill.
The mill rate is as high as it is, McDaniel said, for three primary reasons: the loss of revenue as a result of the , a near 15 percent net decrease in the Grand List following the revaluation and the first . It is not, he said, because of spending. He called it a “no frills” spending plan.
No frills, but big bills
The biggest department increase over the previous year is the mayor’s office at 15.4 percent, followed by capital improvements at 13.72 percent and elections (this is a presidential election year so this is no surprise) up 12.85 percent.
Salaries increases are not reflected in the budget, McDaniel said, because he is still in contract negotiations with six collective bargaining units, though by any measure the salaries of at a recommended $1,375,000, dispatchers at $153,000 and nearly $700,000 in fire safety personnel costs, public safety and protection are at the top. With public works salaries not too far behind.
Besides salaries and benefits, (like nearly $70,000 a year for a full time transfer station worker), it costs around $80,000 to maintain town buildings, $7,000 a year for nine public works employees cell phones, and the like. The full budget, which is surprisingly easy to follow, can be found on the town’s website.
Capital Improvements’ Big Picture Plan
A five-year plan, there’s a lot coming in through grants, more than $1.3 million worth, but that is literally a fraction of the overall multi-year, $11.8 million plan. must approve the plan tonight that would have $638,200 put up in the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget, $2.7 million in 2013-14, $1.7 million in 2014-15, $2.8 million slated for 1015-16 and $2.6 million set for 2016-17.
It’s a lot to digest but look at it this way: almost $5 million will be spent on big public works projects, most spread across the five year period. Projects like road paving at $3.3 million, fire fighting gear replacement costs at more than $1.3 million, and almost $800,000 just for truck replacement.
And the school’s part of this plan includes roof repair -- $1 million – and bus replacement costs hovering at more than $700,000.
Paying for Education
Nary has a budget year gone by in this or any other municipality where teacher layoffs aren’t threatened; it’s as common as seasonal allergies. This year is no different and with a near $1 million reduction from the requested near $38 million, the is looking at being funded at $36,632,735, just about $400,000 more than it was funded in the 2011-2012 fiscal year plan.
At last week’s finance committee meeting, where the schools budget was not technically on the agenda – members said it was under “other budget discussion” – it was nonetheless approved, though by only two the other three members. Some complained later that it was “back-doored.” Regardless of how it occurred, the budget is part of the town’s overall general budget slated to be adopted tonight.