NEW MILFORD — Mayor Pete Bass is proposing a town budget that would reduce taxes by 2.47 percent for residents in 2022.
This would be the first time in 39 years that the town’s tax rate would be reduced in consecutive years, according to Bass, who made the proposal during a Feb. 16 meeting.
“We were trying everything possible this year to really mitigate a tax rate increase,” Bass said. “We know everyone is just trying to get through the pandemic.”
The budget will move on to a joint hearing session for the town council, Board of Education, and the Board of Finance next week followed by town council deliberations on March 4. Once those are completed and any tweaks to the budget incorporated, it will move on to the Board of Finance for a separate hearing and approval. Bass expects the town to be able to put the budget to a vote in April or May.
The tax cuts would not significantly impact the town’s revenue because of property value increases and other business and housing growth in the area, Bass said. The mayor expects the town to continue on this upward trajectory and see even greater revenue increases in the second quarter of 2022 once more people get vaccinated.
Last year, for the first time, a pandemic-era executive order from the governor meant that residents did not get to vote on the town’s municipal budget. “And we heard loud and clear from the public that they definitely want to vote,” Bass said.
Now, Bass has reached out to Sen. Bill Buckbee (R-New Milford) and Sen. Craig Miner (R-Litchfield) to ask for help in securing state approval to let residents vote on the 2022 budget. After skipping the process last year, Bass wants to make sure New Milford residents have a say in the town's budget this time around, but will need approval from the Gov. Lamont for this to happen.
The town plans to raise over $84 million in tax revenue in 2022, with another $21 million from other sources which include funds from the state and transfers from the Waste Management Fund.
The total proposed town expenditure discussed at the meeting included $105.1 million with $65.8 million going to board of education expenses and roughly $39.26 going towards town expenses. According to Bass’s presentation, critical funds will be directed towards the Sarah Noble and New Milford High School roofs, as well as road improvements and the library modernization project.
“I’m hopeful that once the public takes a look at the budget and sees that we’ve done everything possible for us to have this reduction, especially this year due to COVID, that they’ll agree with us during the voting when the budget does come before them,” Bass said.