Aldermen expected to vote on city budget May 21

The Milford Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on the 2014-15 city budget May 21 at Milford City Hall, starting at 7 p.m.

The board had planned to vote sooner, but at least one delay in the budget deliberations schedule pushed that back.

Board Chairman Phil Vetro said he expects the budget vote will take place May 21 and the new mill rate set. If voting takes longer than one meeting, which has happened in the past, the board has also reserved City Hall for May 22 to complete a vote.

The board’s final budget deliberations, when they meet with department heads to discuss their budget requests, will take place May 12 at City Hall, starting at 7 p.m.

The mill rate was expected to jump 5.75% under the 2014-15 spending plan when the finance board completed its phase of the process a month ago.

But Mayor Ben Blake said he hoped that number might come down as the budget process moved along.

When the Board of Aldermen started its review of the budget, taxes were expected to rise $329 on the typical Milford home with a market value of $311,070. For the typical homeowner, that's an additional $27 a month. That represents a mill rate increase of 1.51 mills, from 26.28 to 27.79 mills.

The $199.35 million budget proposal marks a $5.3 million increase in spending over the current year, which is a 2.74% hike.

Blake has said much of that is “unavoidable.” Increases in pension contributions, debt payments and health care costs, plus wage increases, account for $5 million of the increased costs, he said.

Assistant City Planner

One issue that has been a focus during this year’s budget discussions is the  assistant city planner’s job.

At a public hearing before the aldermen started reviewing the budget, a number of residents asked the board not to cut the assistant city planner’s job, a move the mayor has said is in line with a study done several years ago aimed at streamlining the city’s permitting processes.

The finance board voted to cut the position, currently held by Emmeline Harrigan, to save $77,000. At the same time, they would add a building inspector.

Meg Greene, secretary in the Planning and Zoning office, told the board at its earlier public hearing that Milford has had an assistant city planner since 1957, and with environmental changes, flood plain changes and some devastating storms, she doesn't understand why the city would think about cutting this kind of position now.

“The city needs a professional in shoreline issues,” Greene said.

It would take a two-thirds vote by the Board of Aldermen to add the position back to the budget.