Milford tax rate would drop for 6th straight year under $222 million proposed budget

Milford City Hall

Milford City Hall


MILFORD - The city tax rate would decrease for the sixth year in a row if the Finance Board’s budget proposal of $222 million were approved by the Board of Alderman.

The Finance Board’s recent unanimous budget recommendation would result in a tax rate of 27.67 mills, a decrease from last year’s rate of 27.68 mills. The city side of the proposed budget is $122.2 million, with $99.7 million allocated toward education. The city’s grand list of taxable property increased by $92.9 million to $6,751,219,520 over the Oct. 1, 2019 total.

The aldermen will meet with city department heads and grant-based agencies before voting to adopt the budget in mid-May.

Board of Finance Chairman Brian Lema took board members Scott Moulton Ray Arnold, Lauren Ranges and Ben Gettinger through the 100-plus page proposal.

“The Board of Finance did a great job making some adjustments on the budget they received. It’s sets up for another responsible year of budgeting,” Mayor Ben Blake said. “If the Board of Aldermen adopts the recommendation it will be the sixth year in a row that Milford residents and businesses have seen a tax cut. I think it has never happened anywhere, at least in the state of Connecticut.”

Moulton asked whether COVID-related money expected from the state could help reduce the budget but after discussion it was decided restrictions on use of funds made it practical to move the proposal forward.

Blake said: “We don’t get a lot of our revenue from state grants, about 4 percent. When I first (2012) began doing budgets about 15 percent of our revenue came from the state so it is less of a factor now. But it is still important.

“What we predict and plugged in are last year’s numbers so the state will hold us harmless,” he said. “I’m hopeful that will come into play because revenues at the state level are pretty high. We don’t know the exact budget that the legislature will ultimately adopt but the governor’s budgets holds us harmless from last year, no more no less.”

Blake said he believes Milford is on a good path, pointing to 467 new businesses coming into the city in 2020.

“We’ve had another huge growth in our grand list. Those businesses decided to make their home in Milford at a time when we were in a pandemic,” Blake said.

Restaurants took the biggest economic hit, but Blake said he is hopeful.

“Overall, a lot of businesses had to adjust and be creative. There was a lot of pain for business owners and they had to work double-time to make it work. There are some restaurants that temporarily closed that are opening,” he said. “7 Seas, a Milford institution going back over 50 years, I know they are opening after being closed for several months. I suspect there are other restaurants and businesses that had to go on pause.”

Blake reported that the Finance Board added a deputy health director, with a salary of $81,165, and contributions to the pension fund. The Police Department request of $15,219,793 was reduced in the mayor’s proposal to $13.9 million . Line items for two safety dispatchers were eliminated. A computer request of $96,000 was lowered to $42,000. Police cruisers for $296,000 and a dash cam video camera $252,931 were also eliminated.

Lema thanked Joe Fitzpatrick, who has stepped down from the board, for his years of service, and welcomed Gettinger to the board. Twitter: @blox354