A $219.5 million municipal budget was submitted to the City Council last week that will bring a tax increase to residential owners because of state-mandated revaluation, Mayor Timothy Stewart and most city officials say.
According to published reports a tax rate of 34.98 ($34.98 per $1,000 valuation) will take effect July 1 if the budget is adopted. While the tax rate is dropping, new property assessments from a recently completed revaluation will mean higher bills for homeowners and owners of multi-family units.
As with all property revaluations, burdens on small property owners and tenants increase because of the regressive nature of the property tax and Connecticut’s over reliance on it to pay for essential services and schools. Residential owners in New Britain bear the brunt of higher tax bills while industrial properties will decrease under the current system.
Mayor Stewart, who rode to victory over incumbent Lucian Pawlak five years ago because of 40% re-assessment hikes, says now there is little that can be done to avert an increase in property bills because of revaluation. The budget proposal he submitted is essentially a level funding one with no layoffs and a slight increase in the education budget.
Between now and June the municipal budget will get more scrutiny from the City Council whose members will be seeking ways to extract more savings without cutting services. A key point of the debate will be whether the $118 million allocated for the school district will remain the same or be increased to deal with serious resource shortfalls cited in recent outside reports about the high school’s accreditation, student achievement and morale in the school district.
Also to be determined is whether a local property tax credit will be extended to seniors and individuals on fixed incomes — a form of relief adopted by the Council and agreed to by the Mayor last fall. This issue, which would extend an existing state credit program for seniors with local funding, has been resisted by Stewart. The impact of revaluation, however, will increase pressure to provide the senior tax credit if not every year at least this year.