A chance to comment on the city budget

The Board of Aldermen will hold a public hearing on the proposed city budget Wednesday, April 5, at 7 p.m. at Milford City Hall.

This is a chance for residents to comment on the proposed city and school spending plans for 2017-18.

The Board of Finance recently voted forward a city budget for 2017-18 that leaves taxes and city services pretty much the same for next year.

But that could all change during the final phase of the budget-setting process if the looming state budget hits Milford with millions of dollars in cuts to state aid.

Milford’s finance board voted March 8 in favor of a $207.9-million budget plan for 2017-18, which is up $3.4 million from the current $204.5 million and marks an increase of 1.7%.

Despite that slight increase, due to an increase in taxable property in the city, the plan would drop the mill rate slightly, from 27.84 to 27.73. That is a .4% decline in the tax rate, which Mayor Ben Blake described as “essentially a flat budget.”

The plan now moves to the Board of Aldermen for final approval.

After the April 5 public hearing, the board will meet April 10, 17, 25, May 3 and 10 to discuss the different budget requests. Education operations, which is typically a longer discussion, will be the focus of the April 25 meeting.

All budget workshop meetings start at 7 p.m. at Milford City Hall.

The schedule calls for voting to start on the budget Monday, May 15, at 7 p.m. with subsequent dates set aside if the voting takes longer than one meeting.

Mayor Blake has described the budget plan as conservative. It eliminates at least three jobs in the Public Works Department, plus 14.4 teaching positions and three paraprofessional positions in the schools.

Finance Board Chairman Brian Lema said the board received several letters from residents asking that they not reduce the school board spending plan. The board made a technical cut, but otherwise left the school board’s request alone. The school board had asked for $40,000 for an additional school resource officer, but since that wasn’t matched on the city side of the budget, the finance board voted to subtract that from the board’s request. The school board’s request was $92,336,582 and is now $92,296,582, marking a historically low .74% increase over the current spending plan of $91,611,950.

The public hearing is a good chance for residents to make their opinions known about the spending plans.

In past years, turnout has been very low at public hearings concerning the budget. But if residents feel that certain city services deserve more focus, this is the time to let city leaders know. More details about the budget proposal can be found on the city website: Ci.milford.ct.us.