Mayor says this could be the fourth straight year of a tax decrease

Mayor Ben Blake said if the city’s 2019-20 budget plan goes through as it stands now, this will mark the fourth year in a row that taxes have gone down in Milford.

The reduction won’t be much: About $2 for residents with the typical home that has a market value of $317,800.

“But at least it’s going in the right direction,” Blake said.

Predictions so far call for the mill rate dropping from the current 27.74 to 27.73.

The budget plan comes with a proposed spending hike of about $6.3 million, or 3%, from $210,195,255 this year to $216,528,371.

The Board of Education accounts for a part of that increase. The school board’s spending plan is up about $1.76 million over the current year. The board’s proposal calls for spending $95,078,487 for the 2019-20 school year, which marks an increase of 1.89% over the current year’s budget of $93,315,155.

Other contributors to the overall city budget increase are hikes in wages, pension costs and debt service.

“The recommendation reflects a status quo budget with no new net positions and a slight reduction in the amount of local taxes due,” the mayor said. “Still, at a time when most other Connecticut towns have enacted tax increases of over 10% annually, Milford is, for a fourth consecutive year, discussing the size of its tax cut.”

The city’s tax base has been growing, and that’s one reason residents may not see a tax increase.

“New business continues to skyrocket,” Blake said. “This past year alone, 465 new businesses have made Milford home.

“A tidal wave of economic development has helped grow the city's tax base to over $6.7 billion,” Blake added. “Milford now has the largest grand list in New Haven County and one of the tops in the state.”

The budget plan also calls for transferring $9 million from the undesignated fund balance to the 2019-20 budget to avoid a tax hike. After the transfer there will still be a healthy amount in the undesignated fund account, the mayor said.

“Overall it’s good news,” Blake said. “We’re keeping it pretty flat and we continue to fund the same services that people come to expect.”

The budget numbers may change as the process moves forward. Milford still has to get final state figures, which Blake said account for about 5% of the city’s revenue. The budget was created using revenue estimates based on prior years’ funding from the state.

Next in the budget process, the Board of Finance will hold a public hearing on the city and school spending plans Monday, Feb. 11, starting at 6 p.m. at Milford City Hall. That is a chance for residents to come and share their ideas about the budget plans.

The finance board will review the city and school budget proposals before voting on a spending package in March. The Board of Aldermen will then review the proposals and vote on a 2019-20 budget in mid-May.