March 18, 2011

Vernon CT - Mayor's Budget Proposal Would Mean A Decrease In Taxes -

Vernon Mayor's Budget Proposal Would Mean A Decrease In Taxes - "
Vernon Mayor's Budget Proposal Would Mean A Decrease In Taxes"

By JOSEPH A. O'BRIEN JR., Special to The Courant

VERNON — Residents and businesses would see slightly lower property taxes under the budget proposal that Mayor Jason McCoy presented to the town council Tuesday night.

The $25,571,655 that McCoy is recommending for general government spending in 2011-12 is $98,596, or 0.38 percent, less than the current budget.

When combined with the $47.5 million proposed for education, $6.3 million for debt service, and $55,000 for capital improvements, the total budget would be $79,352,355, an increase of 0.8 percent from the current budget.

"This budget lowers taxes and reduces the tax rate to under 30 mills," McCoy said at the town council meeting.

With the reduction, taxpayers would pay $2,996 instead of the $3,002 they now pay on each $100,000 of assessed property value.

McCoy also said that the sewer budget proposed by the Water Pollution Control Authority for the next fiscal year is $5,543,768, which is $58,775, or 1.06 percent, lower than this year's sewer budget. But what effect that will have on next year's sewer rates won't be known until July when the sewer authority sets its rates, with payments due quarterly.

McCoy said there was no sewer rate increase for the current year and he anticipates no increase for the coming year, but that decision lies with the sewer authority, not the mayor and town council.

The town's grand list of taxable property rose an anemic 0.0085 percent to $1.91 billion during the year that ended on Oct. 1, 2010. The town estimated collecting $53.74 million, 70 percent of its total revenue, from local property owners during the current fiscal year that ends on June 30.

The school board initially requested a budget of $47,632,358, but McCoy reduced that figure by $170,000 before presenting the combined budgets to the council. McCoy's recommended amount for education would be a 0.2 percent decrease from the current year's budgeted amount.

Overall salary and wage expenses for the school district, which account for 63.5 percent of education spending, total $30,250,471 for 2011-12. Employee benefit costs will increase by 0.6 percent to $7.4 million. Wage and benefit costs total $37.6 million, or 79 percent of the total budget.

A main reason the town was able to hold the line on spending was the relatively small 2.9 percent increase in health insurance costs for town, school board and sewer authority workers. In the current budget, health insurance costs are 22 percent higher than in the previous fiscal year. McCoy said that the increase "accounted for nearly all of the increase in spending in the 2010-11 budget."

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