Finn on Shelton’s possible new tax rate: ‘They won’t give it to me’

Alderman Jack Finn will vote on a new municipal budget in a few hours but has no idea what the new tax rate might be in Shelton.

And that is irritating him.

Finn, the lone Democrat on the Republican-controlled Board of Aldermen, claimed his attempts to be given the city’s expected mill rate calculations before tonight’s aldermanic budget vote have been stymied.

“I’m totally frustrated,” he said on early Thursday afternoon, with the Board of Aldermen expected to vote on the new city budget— and set the new mill rate — at a meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at Shelton City Hall.

“I’m voting on this in six hours and I don’t have it,” Finn said of the possible new mill rate. “They won’t give it to me. But how can we vote on a budget without a mill rate calculation?”

Finn said he has filed a Freedom of Information request to be given access to the mill rate calculations, a process that involves the mayor and city finance director, with some input from the tax collector.

When the aldermen approve a budget tonight, they also will set the mill rate based on the city’s planned expenditures and expected revenues.

Some changes in budget expected

Aldermen are expected to make some changes to the recommended budget — they most likely will be minor ones — so knowing exactly how much revenue will have to be raised from local property taxes in the next fiscal year is an ongoing, evolving situation.
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Because Republicans dominate the eight-member Board of Aldermen, they will essentially determine those changes and likely know what they will be in advance. Finn said he’s being kept out of the loop.

“If they are going to make changes, we should all know what they’ll be,” he said.

No tax increase in mayor’s plan

Lauretti has recommended a budget with a 1.7% spending increase and no change in the tax rate. The city Board of Apportionment and Taxation (A&T) made some minor changes to the mayor’s budget. The next fiscal year begins July 1.

Finn noted that during recent aldermanic budget sessions, he had suggested close to $950,000 in cuts to various city department budgets in order to identify added funds that could be given to the Board of Education (BOE).

The BOE has requested a $4.2 million increase (or 5%), but Lauretti wants to give them a $1.5 million increase (or 2.2%). BOE officials have said they need at least a $3.25 million increase (or 3.6%) to avoid possible layoffs, possibly re-instituting pay-to-participate (or pay-to-play) fees, and other cutbacks.

During the municipal budget process, the Board of A&T couldn’t reach a consensus on the BOE budget allocation because of a 3-3 split between Republican and Democratic members.