Proposed Meriden city budget would increase spending by 4.2%

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MERIDEN — The city’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023-24 would increase spending by 4.2% over levels in the current fiscal year, according to city budget documents. 

City Manager Timothy Coon released his proposed budget of just over $217.7 million this week. That figure represents an increase of more than $8.83 million or 4.2% over the current $208.878 million spending plan the City Council approved last spring. 

The budget proposal so far projects an increase of 2.67 mills to the city’s mill rate. That figure would raise the outer district mill rate from its current rate of 32.99 mills to 35.66 mills. The proposed mill rate for the inner district, which includes trash collection, has yet to be determined.

“There are several major impacts on the FY24 budget that create some ambiguity at this time in the budget development calendar; specifically the Health Insurance and State Revenue Motor Vehicle Reimbursement. As a result, my proposed budget will likely see significant changes beyond the usual Council driven actions,” Coon wrote in a preface to the proposal, which was dated March 1, 2023. 

The proposal assumes 1.3% growth in the city’s grand list — an assumption that Coon noted is a “placeholder that will be more fully developed as the Grand List is finalized.” 

The city’s own deliberations come as state funding levels remain in flux. For example, local officials have so far forecast a potential $3.1 million decline in state motor vehicle cap revenues. Coon noted that revenue needs to be shifted to the city’s mill rate to account for potential loss. 

Overall, the $8.1 million spending increase so far proposed is driven primarily by an expected $5.3 million increase in employee benefit costs. That cost includes $4.3 million related to annual required pension contributions. Another $1 million is attributed to the Board of Education budget and another $500,000 to cover increases in Fire Department overtime costs. 

Republican City Councilor Dan Brunet, the minority party leader, described the proposed mill rate increase as “beyond concerning.” 

“This would be on top of last year’s increase due to revaluation,” Brunet said.

Brunet acknowledged that the path to arriving toward a finalized budget is a “long process” that will take place over the next two months. 

“We’ll see how it all plays out, when all the different deductions and different revenue comes into play,” Brunet said, noting that due to expected changes in the state’s Education Cost Sharing Grant, the Board of Education budget alone is a moving target. 

“It’s very early,” Brunet said. 

Deputy Mayor Michael Cardona similarly indicated there likely will be changes as the budget cycle progresses. 

“The issue here is there are so many unknowns with the state,” Cardona said, noting that the final budget the council ultimately approves after deliberations “typically doesn’t resemble” the initial budget proposals. 

According to a preliminary budget calendar, the City Council is scheduled to receive a full overview of the proposal during its March 20 meeting. That meeting will be followed by a series of Finance Committee meetings during which city department heads will discuss their respective proposed budgets. 

According to a preliminary schedule shared with the Record-Journal, the first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 28. Departments expected to present their proposed budgets include the city manager, finance, legal, human resources and the city clerk. 

On Thursday, March 30, heads of the city’s Health and Human Services, Development and Enforcement and Economic Development departments are scheduled to present. 

On Wednesday, April 5, Public Works, Parks, Hunters Golf Course and Public Utilities leaders are scheduled to present their budget requests. The next day, on Thursday, April 5, the Board of Education is scheduled to make its presentation to the Finance Committee. That will be followed by a final series of departmental presentations on April 11, which so far includes airport, information technology, emergency telecommunications, police and fire leaders. 

Officials noted that while the meeting dates have been scheduled, the schedule of budget presentations by individual departments is subject to change. 

The City Council as a whole is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the budget request on April 15. The council is scheduled to take action on the proposal on May 5. Should the budget be adopted without a veto by Mayor Kevin Scarpati within five days following the council’s vote, the council will vote on May 15 to set the city’s next tax rate. 



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