First Selectman Michael Freda calls the proposed 2012-13 budget a responsible – both for the future of the town and weary taxpayers.
Before the $85.1 million budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year is adopted, voters will have their say at a town wide referendum on May 22.
“The bottom line is that there is no tax increase,” he said at a town meeting on Monday at North Haven High School.
Voters have the chance to vote at the polls for or against the next fiscal year’s $85.1 million budget, representing a 1.1 percent increase from the previous year. The school budget will go up 3 percent, while the smaller town side of the budget shrinks by 1 percent.
If the budget passes as is, the mill rate on assessed property remains at 26.54. A home assessed at $300,000 would owe 7,962 in taxes.
In order to keep the tax rate down, Freda had to make several decisions about spending and saving.
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The Recipe for a Zero Percent Tax Increase
The biggest decision was what to do with the $1.9 million projected surplus in North Haven’s coffers. Freda said he has always wanted to boost the town’s bond rating from AA to AAA in order to improve the interest rates the town receives. Putting that money toward the total town savings fund would have helped, he said. However, doing so would mean that the money would have to be raised elsewhere in order to pay for the 2012-13 budget.
“In an effort to get a AAA rating for the town, that value was less than the value of the zero percent tax increase this year and that’s why we’re rolling it over [to next year's budget],” he said.
Another key aspect of the proposed budget is cutting the capital fund – typically used for upgrading equipment and renovating buildings – from $1.3 million in the current fiscal year to $522,000.
Freda said the plan is to gradually increase these improvements as years go on.
“Every year we’re going to be proposing to you doing a little more to try and stay even with the curve and maybe get ahead of the curve to prevent the taxpaying citizens of North Haven for being hit with massive improvements that need to be done,” he said.
The budget also projects slightly higher revenues than the current year. Delinquent collections are budgeted to go up 6.7 percent to 1.2 million, while dog license fees and building office fees also go up in the budget.
Editor’s Note: A voting guide with polling locations for the referendum will be published later this week.