WALLINGFORD — Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.'s proposed 2019-20 budget would raise property taxes by 1.9 percent, meaning an increase of $101 in taxes for the average residential property owner.
The budget, released late Monday afternoon, would raise the mill rate by .55 mills, from 28.64 mills to 29.19 mills. According to a budget summary, the average residential property parcel would generate $5,342 in taxes, up from the current $5,241.
One mill equals $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed home value.
Here are five other things to know about Dickinson's proposal:
1. Total government spending, except education and utilities, would be $65,715,216, an increase of $2,260,525, or 4.2 percent. The 2018 town Grand List increased by 1.19 percent, which at the current mill rate raises revenue by $1.4 million. However, the loss of Bristol-Myers Squibb, formerly the town’s biggest taxpayer, “resulted in a significant loss in tax revenue,” the mayor’s budget summary said.
2. Education spending would total $103,461,862, an increase of $1,760,872, or 1.7 percent. The Board of Education requested a budget of $104.2 million, an increase of 2.5 percent.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposed budget reduced grants and other financial assistance, including $530,000 from the Education Cost Sharing grant, and requires a teachers’ pension payment from the town of $395,021 in 2019-20, the summary said.
Dickinson left the teachers’ pension payment out of the budget.
“The town of Wallingford has had no role in funding teachers’ pensions previously,” the summary said, “and we object to this new mandate which significantly increases in future years.”
3. The electric, water and sewer divisions all project revenue decreases. For budget purposes, residential electric customers could see a rate increase of $1.10 per month, and a power cost adjustment increase of $3.27 per month. Commercial and industrial customers could see an increase of 1.16 percent on their bills, and a power cost adjustment of nearly 5 percent.
Dickinson predicted an annual increase in sewer rates of $150 for residential customers and $4,000 for large businesses in order to pay for the phosphorus removal upgrade project at the town’s wastewater treatment plant, another state mandate.
4. Dickinson again recommended using reserves to offset the tax increase. The town’s credit rating was reduced recently from Aaa to Aa1 due, in part, to reliance upon financial reserves to pay for expenses and loss of state grant revenue, the statement said.
5. From the CRRA Distribution Fund, Dickinson recommended using $800,000 for a new fire truck, $200,000 for a new snow plow truck and $50,000 for a Wallingford Government TV camera replacement project. He also recommended funding two new police officer positions at $212,000.
The Town Council is slated to hold workshops and public hearings throughout April to question department heads on their budgets. The council can make amendments to Dickinson's budget before voting to adopt a 2019-20 budget in May. If the council does not adopt an amended budget, the mayor's proposal will go into effect automatically.