Milford: No tax increase for FY 2018-19, Mayor Blake says

Mayor Benjamin Blake on Thursday took the wraps off his 2018-19 budget, one that keeps just about all city operations intact and the mill rate where it is now at 27.79 mills.

Under the mayor’s plan, the city’s budget would be $117.3 million. The school board is asking for a $93.59 million allotment, a 1.8 percent increase over the the current education budget.

That would peg the total Milford budget at $210.9 million, or about $5.1 million more than it is now. The city’s 2017-18 overall budget is $205.78 million. The mill rate would be the same because of anticipated improvements to the grand list, or the total value of taxable property. That number now stands at about $6.57 billion, city officials say.

“We have the lowest tax rate in the region,” Blake said. “When I took office seven years ago, the mill rate was 28.89 — now it’s 27.79.”

Blake, a Democrat, said that there remain some unknowns, such as the precise amount that Milford will be getting from the state’s Education Cost Sharing program.

“That ECS number has been continually eroding,” Blake said. “Back eight years ago, when I was an alderman, about 15 percent of the school budget came from Hartford — now it’s about 6 percent. And the state’s circuit breaker senior tax relief program was cut back, so we’re spending $400,000 to continue that program.”

And Town Hall is still waiting on a final figure for a grand list “which has been inching upward,” the mayor said.

The Mayor’s budget now goes to the Board of Finance, which has scheduled several meetings to discuss the matter before sending it on to the Board of Aldermen.

Meetings are set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 7, Feb. 12, Feb. 21, Feb. 26, March 1 and March 7 in Conference Room B of the Parsons Government Complex.

Talk on the education budget will continue in the Feb. 7 meeting. The meetings on Feb. 12, 21 and 26 will deal with requests from the various city departments.

The March 1 meeting is reserved for “technical discussions.” A final vote is scheduled for the March 7 meeting.

After that, the Board of Finance will submit its budget to the Board of Aldermen for final consideration, beginning those discussions in April. Officials said they hope a final budget can be agreed upon by mid-May.