The following questions have recently been asked of me via email or phone call. These questions are of general interest and timely so are being answered in this format.
- What are the tax implications of the budget being proposed by the Legislative Council to be voted on in the May 15 referendum?
This budget proposal calls for a mill rate of 24.68 and a general tax increase of 1.28%. A typical (average) property tax in Newtown is $8000.00. This budget would require an increase in that tax bill of $102.00 annually.
- How does the current proposal fund the municipal budget and the education budget?
The current budget proposal provides $27,980,940 for the municipal government, an increase of 0.43% from fiscal 2012.
The current budget proposal provides $68,355,794 for educational purposes, an increase of 0.57% from fiscal 2012.
- Why can’t we add ask voters to respond to whether the education budget and then the town budget is too high or too low?
A Charter change is required in order to ask these sorts of advisory questions. The LC did put this option to the voters last year. The resulting vote did not support the Charter change.
- Why do we have to allocate $400,000 to our savings account?
We hope to add this amount to our savings account to bring our reserves up to 8% of the operational budget. Our rating agencies have informed us that towns with similar bond rating (aa+, aa1) typically have 10% in their savings account, which is our long-term goal. Our fund balance policy calls for a minimum savings of 8% - the $400,000 is needed to bring us to that level. Our bond rating is partially determined by our commitment to fund balance, our savings account. We need to maintain our current bond rating in order to benefit from low interest rates in our annual borrowing for school and other town projects. A high bond rating has positive impacts for everyone as it allows us to borrow more reasonably, thus achieve more with less cost.
- Has our Grand List grown this past fiscal year?
Yes. Our Grand List grew by approximately $650,000 in new taxes. That growth provides some offset to the level of taxation needed to support the budget proposal.