Milford mayor proposes $11M budget increase for next fiscal year

Milford City Hall, Spring 2021.

Milford City Hall, Spring 2021.

Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — Mayor Ben Blake's final city budget as its top executive comes with a proposed $11 million hike from the present fiscal year.

Blake — who recently announced he would be stepping down in June after Gov. Ned Lamont nominated him to serve as an administrative law judge for Connecticut’s Workers’ Compensation Commission — is proposing a $147.3 million for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The current fiscal year's budget is $136.3 million, roughly $4 million less than Blake had proposed last year.

This year, the Board of Education requested a $106.4 million school budget, roughly $4 million more than last year's budget. 

Blake is also proposing an expected $40.8 million general fund revenue, an increase over last year's $33 million general fund revenue.

"Our priority is to provide high-quality services in the most efficient, effective and affordable manner," said Blake in a prepared statement. "With serious headwinds to confront, we must address the upcoming financial difficulties and find ways to offset anticipated financial drives like salary increases and massive spikes to our health care costs."

Blake stated that last year's state-mandated revaluation substantially shifted property assessments, causing unease throughout Milford.

"For example, a certain single-family colonial house in a residential neighborhood experienced about a $1,500 uptick in property taxes after revaluation, while one of the city's largest commercial taxpayers realized about a $500,000 decrease in the amount of taxes due," Blake said.

Public safety was among the top budget requests at $32.3 million, but the mayor's proposal would give the department $31.1 million. The Milford Police Department requested $15.8 million and the Fire Department requested $14 million, but the mayor proposed $15.3 million and $13.3 million, respectively.

The public budget hearings for the 2023-24 fiscal year are underway, with the next hearing at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, featuring the health department, public library, elections, city clerk, Beth-El Center, Milford Arts Council, and others. Then, at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 27, the probate court, law department, MGAT, recreation department and others will present their budget requests to the finance board.

The Board of Education will present its budget requests to the finance board at 5:30 p.m. on March 1. Technical discussion on the budget starts the following day, and the Board of Finance has its final vote on March 14.