Shelton aldermen approve $129M budget, reduce mill rate

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Residents faced with increased property values through the revaluation will see a reduction in the city’s mill rate.

The Board of Aldermen, at its meeting May 26, approved a $129 million budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year which includes a mill rate of 17.47, or more than 4.5 mills less than the current year.

Mayor Mark Lauretti said the budget “deals with reevaluation and maintains a stable tax rate in terms of what our mill rate is.”

Board of Aldermen President John Anglace Jr. said this 2022-23 budget gives residents one of the most affordable tax rates in Connecticut.

“Property revaluation took effect on October 1, 2022, during a period of unprecedented high residential values and commercial property values influenced by the ravaging effects of the COVID shutdowns,” Anglace added.

“Despite the highest ever residential property values and significant revaluation impact, Mayor Lauretti was able to lower the tax mill rate from 22.03 to 17.47 while at the same time providing adequate funding for all departments including education,” Anglace added.

The largest portion of the city’s budget is the Board of Education. For the coming year, Lauretti proposed allocating the schools just over $75 million, a $1.5 million increase over the present budget but less than the school board’s requested $76.8 million.

To maintain present staff and programs, school Finance Director Todd Heffelfinger has stated that the 2022-23 fiscal year budget would need to be $75.7 million, a $2.2 million increase from the present year and about $700,000 more than Lauretti recommended.

The major concern, according to Board of Education Chair Kathy Yolish, remains the special education line, which is some $2 million over budget this fiscal year as 91 new students requiring special education have moved into the district since July 1, 2021.

In response, the aldermen adopted, as part of the budget resolution, the creation of a Special Education Reserve Account, which will sit on the city side of the budget. Details of the account, Anglace said will be determined by Lauretti in consultation with the school board.

“Where the funding comes from is uncertain at this point,” Anglace said. “If it comes from the (fiscal year) 2022 surplus it cannot be appropriated until audited. Consequently, we created and codified the account ‘in principle’ and left it up to the mayor to determine.”

Yolish said the school board was pleased with the overall appropriation and that city leaders are prepared to work with the administration to help cover any special education overage in the coming fiscal year.

"The plan calls for a reserve account set up on the city’s side that will be earmarked for these excess costs that we may incur,” Yolish said. “No specific amount has been determined as that will be determined once the fiscal year ends and the audit has been completed.”

Yolish said this budget season was smooth due to the continual communication between Lauretti, the Board of Aldermen, the Board of Education and school administrators.

“I believe that all involved feel that our board is very transparent and watches carefully how our dollars are being spent,” Yolish said. “What Shelton BOE is experiencing in SPED costs is the same for nearly all BOEs in our state.

“The mayor and aldermen recognize this and thus have put a reserve plan into place,” Yolish added. “For all that had been accomplished this budget season we are very appreciative and hopeful that this collaboration will continue in future years.”