MERIDEN — The few residents who spoke during a hearing on the city’s proposed spending plan for the next fiscal year appeared to be in agreement on one point: the proposal does not offer relief to taxpayers.
The public hearing on the proposed $208.4 million budget on Thursday night at Lincoln Middle School occurred as numerous residents’ appeals of their reevaluated properties have yet to be heard by the Board of Assessment Appeals. The duration of the hearing itself was roughly 20 minutes. It was presided over by the City Council and mayor.
A city meeting calendar showed the board had several special meetings scheduled for hearing taxpayers’ appeals.
The budget proposal, if adopted by the City Council next month, would reduce the city’s mill rate to 32.88 mills per $1,000. The current tax rate is 40.86 mills. The overall budget proposal would increase current spending by more than $5.6 million
Resident Michael Rajewski, the first of five people who addressed the council, said the proposed mill rate is too high based on the increases in many properties’ assessed values following revaluation.
Rajewski and other speakers criticized the process residents needed to follow to appeal the revaluations of their properties. He suggested the city use some of its federal COVID-19 relief funds for taxpayers relief.
Sean McDonald, who followed Rajewski, said the revaluations could have been postponed.
“You postponed meetings because of COVID,” McDonald said. “You postponed everything because of COVID.”
McDonald said landlords will have to raise rents, forcing tenants out of their homes.
“... I don’t understand why you guys are not as concerned as the residents of Meriden,” McDonald said. “... The residents in this town are overwhelmed.”
Dan Zaborowski, a fixture during council meetings, questioned the 5:30 p.m. start time of the public hearing. He said 90% of residents are either commuting from work or still working.
“Why couldn’t this be at 6:30 p.m.?” he asked.
Zaborowski critiqued line items in the budget request, including water and sewer increases and salary raises that he called “ludicrous.”
Anthony Pelligrino told the council that based on the revaluations of the properties he owns, he will be forced to raise his tenants’ rents.
Elain Cariati, who ran last fall for mayor, asked the council to consider the impact of the budget proposal on senior citizens and middle class residents.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to bankrupt them,” she said. “... The budget needs to be looked at carefully. I hope, Mayor, that you use your veto. This is the time to give back to the community.”