After a public hearing on March 2nd and weekly meetings since then, the Board of Finance finished its work on the budget for the fiscal year starting on July 1st, recommending a mil rate increase of 1.05% to the Town for a vote. Soon it will be up to you, the voters and taxpayers, to decide how we did.
To put it in terms that may be easier to understand, if your home has a market value of around $450,000, your taxes next year will go up about $100 for the year or about $8.50 per month. You can calculate your actual increase based on your own home by multiplying your home’s assessed value (70% of market value) by the mil rate increase (.00032). If you don’t know your home’s assessed value, you can easily find it online by going to the Vision Appraisal website for New Fairfield, http://gis.vgsi.com/newfairfieldct/, click on Enter the Online Database, then type in your street address. Your assessment value is on the left side of the page of information about your property.
This is the first budget that most of us can remember that was completed with almost no public input. Despite the four hour time set aside on a Saturday morning for the public hearing on the budget, the time for public comment both at the start and the end of our meetings, the e-mail we set up to make it easier for taxpayers to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org), our monthly columns in the Town Tribune over the past year, the information provided on the Town’s Facebook page about our budget work, and numerous pleas for anyone watching our meetings in TV Land to please provide us with your comments, we received only ONE comment sent by e-mail from a taxpayer about the budget during this year’s process. That taxpayer asked that we consider reducing the Town’s budget request, and we did that.
The budget we have proposed takes into account the decreases in State Aid for education proposed by the Governor. It funds the Town’s commitment to our employees’ health care and medical insurance at a time of rising medical costs. This budget increases spending for public safety in several different areas – an additional police officer to hold down the overtime costs of providing full time school resource police officers in each of our four schools (in the Town budget) as parents requested last year, an additional public works employee to help improve road repair, road sightline mowing, snow plowing time, etc., and an increase in funding for paid emergency medical staffing to get the ambulance to your home more quickly no matter what time of day you call.
This budget, as requested by the Superintendent and Board of Education, cuts school staffing, including an administrator, to acknowledge the falling student enrollment in our system. At the same time, the education budget maintains funding for curriculum development and professional development, two items that appear to have paid big dividends over the last couple of years in student achievement, with New Fairfield schools in the top ten in the State in a new state school accountability index and with our school’s test scores moving toward the top of our DRG (group of economically and demographically similar towns) from our position just a few short years ago at the bottom.
At the Board of Finance, we try to make sure that you, the taxpayers, will get a good return on the money you invest when you pay taxes to support our community and our school system. We think what you will get next year from a 1.05% increase in your investment will provide value way in excess of the cost, and we hope you think so as well.
Let us hear from you at one of our meetings on the third Wednesday of every month, starting at 7:30 p.m., in the Community Room at the Senior Center. You can watch our meetings live on cable channels 99 or 194 or by live streaming from the town website, www.newfairfield.org. We have public comment at every Board of Finance meeting at both the beginning and the end of the agenda, And you can also contact us through the Board of Finance page on the Town’s website at www.newfairfield.org or directly by e-mail at email@example.com.