Milford mayor’s budget calls for a zero tax increase — and possible decrease when proposed budget is wrapped up
MILFORD >> Mayor Ben Blake Wednesday unveiled his proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-18 and it is looking like for the second year in a row there will be a decrease in taxes.
Blake’s budget calls for a zero increase, but Blake said he’s hopeful that by the time the proposed budget goes through the Board of Finance, on to the Board of Aldermen for final approval, taxpayers will see a decrease in taxes.
If taxes are decreased, it would be only the second time in the past 30 years that has happened in Milford, Blake said.
Last year under Blake’s leadership, the mill rate was lowered from 27.88 mills to 27.84 mills.
The mill rate will at the least stay at 27.84, he said, attributing the financial gains to “such a huge influx” of new businesses that have grown the grand list.
He said there has been $100 million in new construction and a 96 percent occupancy rate for commercial and industrial space. He said there has been a 26 percent increase in new business growth.
Blake said the city are has increased streams of revenue, including from the fire department-run ambulance service, as well as savings on the operational side such as the new automated trash system.
Blake said many public infrastructure projects are coming to fruition, including Founder’s Walk.
In his mayor’s address as part of the budget proposal, Blake wrote, “As we work to adopt a new budget, we must determine where we are as a community and prudently prepare for those opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”
He went on to write: “Without question, Milford’s success is the result of the tremendous and continuous efforts of our residents, our businesses, our volunteers, and our employees all of whom work so hard to make our community strong and prosperous.”
Blake noted financial accomplishments of the last year, including that “nation’s premier rating agency, Fitch Ratings, which upgraded Milford’s bond rating to ‘AAA’ — the highest possible credit grade a city can receive.”
He said Milford is “in the midst of an economic renaissance.”
Blake said his 2017-2018 budget proposal takes into account the impact of anticipated state funding reductions, rising fixed costs and other financial forces.
He said there are new challenges in next year’s budget related to state cuts, as “the state recently announced the rescission of over $730,000 in current year funding that Milford had relied upon and budgeted as revenue.”
Blake added, “To make matters worse, this likely foreshadows additional cuts to municipal aid as part of the State’s strategy to help balance a $1.5 billion deficit in Connecticut.”
He wrote that next year’s projections show escalating contribution requirements including contractual wage increases, pension, debt service, stop-loss health care premiums, workers’ compensation and heart and hypertension coverage.