MERIDEN — Residents sounded off about City Manager Tim Coon’s $197.1 million budget proposal during a public hearing Monday night, some telling city councilors they don’ want a tax increase.
“Do you know how hard you’re making it to live in the city?” resident Sean McDonald said. “Are you aware of hard it is for new businesses to come in and existing businesses to remain in this city? I’ve had enough.”
Coon’s budget for next fiscal year represents a $1.7 million, or .88 percent, increase over the current budget and would raise the tax rate by .19 percent, from 41.04 mills to 41.12 mills. A mill equals $1 in property tax per every $1,000 of a property's taxable value.
Under the increase, the owner of a home assessed at $106,000, the median value, would pay an additional $9 in real estate taxes next year, according to Finance Director Michael Lupkas.
A total of about 10 residents spoke at the hearing at Lincoln Middle School.
Phil Mangiaracina, a Meriden teacher and resident, said the Board of Education has already had to cut programs, including the extended day program at Roger Sherman Elementary, to meet its allotment in Coon’s budget, which increased the board’s funding by $750,000.
“We’re not asking for anything more …We’re actually losing out on things and we’re just asking, ‘When does it stop?’” Mangiaracina said.
The budget proposal uses about half of the $3.4 million in unbudgeted tax revenue received as a result of an error in Eversource Energy’s personal property tax to partly offset the need to raise taxes. Coon used half of the $3.4 million to “prepay” for items in next year’s budget, effectively lowering the mill rate, and used the other half on items in the current budget.
The city is also expected to receive an additional $1.7 million in tax revenue next year as a result of the correction in Eversource’s assessment. Resident Tina Manley questioned why the additional revenue couldn’t be used to give residents tax relief.
“Let’s face it, last year, you overtaxed us because of the Eversource debacle,” Manley said. “And with all that extra revenue coming in, I don’t see why you can’t find $1.7 million to give back to the taxpayers.”
Nearly 6,000 residents voted to reject the City Council’s adopted budget in a referendum last summer because they felt the budget’s 4.6 percent tax increase was too high. The budget referendum was the first in the city since language was added to the City Charter allowing for the process over 20 years ago.
The City Council’s Finance Committee, which held the Monday night hearing, will vote later this month to recommend a 2019-20 budget to the full City council.
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