Town Council To Set Mill Rate 6/2/09

Tommorow night the Wolcott Town Council will set the town’s mill rate. Alot of planning and discussion has gone into this final meeting. Here’s what to expect:

The Town’s budget will be trimmed by about $3,000.
The Board of Education’s budget will be passed without change.

With some adjustments in the back tax and upcoming tax collection rate, it is expected that the town’s mill rate will remain the same as this year’s. There are also one or two other factors that figure into the ability to keeping the mill rate stable that have assisted us to do so.

During last week’s workshop a discussion took place between the Mayor and incoming Superintendant about how Wolcott will be receving money from the Federal Government. Already, the State has cut Wolcott about $30,000 in Educational Cost Sharing grants for this year. This type of adjustment is not unusual from time to time. Thankfully, it wasn’t any cost greater than this.

During the Board of Education’s budget hearing, the Council was informed that an attorney examined carefully what we could legally use the Federal stimulus money for. This was identified and sent to the State Dept. of Education as an official request. Becuase that money needs to be sent directly to the Board of Education though, it won’t go throgh the town finance office as other grants usually do. For accounting purposes, this is important because according to the Town Charter and State Statute, it is the Town Council’s legal authority to decide how much money is allocated to the Board of Education.

The mayor and superintendant related what was discussed at various meetings they have had in Hartford and it appears that they were both given two slightly different formulas with the same result. I personally called Sen. Sam Caligiuri’s office and they confirmed that Wolcott will be funded at a level equal to this year. This was the biggest concern, particularly with the troubles the legislature has been dealing with in the State budget. Rep. Corky Mazurek also confirmed that whatever the final budget plan will be, every town will be level funded. This past Friday I witnessed Sen. Caliguiri questioning Sen. Gaffey of Meriden on the Senate floor on whether a bill passed that night would include this stimulus money. Gaffey confirmed it did, although I had difficulty finding this language iwhen I skimmed through the lengthy bill they were discussing. I will check this bill again.

Someone at the Budget Workshop did raise a point that only Connecticut and South Carolina have requested a certain use of this stimulus money in the way it is intended to be appropriated, and South Carolina was denied in its intention. I’m still unclear on what this is, but will welcome any more information about it. At this point, I’m happy to have the assurances of our State legislative delegation and the Governor that the Town will be level funded from last year.

Because of the level funding from the state, the reduction in the Town budget, some tough decisions made by the education department, the mill rate will be the same as this year, resulting in no tax increase. A few other towns in the area have also been able to achieve no tax increase, but at a steeper cost to services. Others have raised their mill rates slightly. While this will not be an easy year, I hope a stable mill rate will be somewhat welcome relief to taxpayers facing challenges of their own.


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