Milford taxes might not increase with new budget

There’s a chance Milford residents will see no tax increase with the new budget, Mayor Ben Blake said when he unveiled his 2016-17 spending plan Monday.

The Board of Education has already presented its spending plan, which carries less than a 1% increase for 2016-17. The mayor’s plan carries a 1.9% spending increase. Together, the proposed budget for 2016-17 is $205,126,893, up $2,946,221 from the current $202,180,672, or 1.46%.

But Blake anticipates that increased revenue, including a higher grand list and state grants, will offset that spending increase and result in no tax hike for residents.

In presenting his spending plan to the local media Monday afternoon, Blake said the combined city and school budgets represent the lowest spending increase in the last decade.

He said he cut about $2.4 million in department requests as part of his budget process.

The revenue predictions included in the budget plan are conservative at this point and Blake thinks that as the process moves along the numbers will be more favorable for the city. For example, the city may receive $2.7 million more in a municipal revenue sharing grant than had been predicted because of a new state formula used to determine that grant.

But Blake said the city won’t set the new number in stone until it has been confirmed.

“This is really a status quo budget,” the mayor added, saying that there is little new funding included.

The school board is requesting money to pay half the salary of an additional school resource officer and had hoped the city would fund the other half: The city and schools split the cost of the school-based SROs.

But Blake’s budget does not include money for an SRO. He said the police department’s request did not include that.

Blake also said he expects $3.5 million will be transferred from the city’s undesignated fund balance at the end of this budget year to help offset taxes in the next budget.

Today, the city has about $16 million in undesignated funds in its fund balance, Blake said.

After the Board of Finance reviews and votes on a budget, the proposed budget will move to the Board of Aldermen for another public hearing, review and then a final vote, likely in May.