PLAINVILLE - With budget season coming up fast, Town Manager Robert E. Lee presented a look at town budgets over the past 10 years at Monday’s Town Council meeting.
The presentation showed that expenditures in 2009 were $52.6 million and in 2019 they are expected to be $60 million – a difference of about $7.4 million, which represents a 14 percent increase over 10 years or a 1.4 percent per year average increase.
The inflation rate has increased 16 percent over the last 10 years, however. Lee said that the total budget increase has been less than the rate of inflation during that period. Taking inflation into account, he said, the expenditure budget has actually decreased over the last 10 years.
“I’m very proud of our town staff who work day in and day out to save us money and present a budget in a timely and efficient manner,” said Lee. “I’m also proud of the strong relationship we have between our town staff and our Board of Education and our residents who overwhelmingly vote in support of our budgets and initiatives. I would hold our budgets up against any from surrounding communities.”
The tax rate has increased 7.6 mills from 26.24 mills in 2008 to 33.84 mills in 2017. This represents a 29 percent increase, but Lee said that number is “misleading” because there were two revaluations that occurred in town during that time period. The amount of taxes that a person pays is the mill rate multiplied by the value of a property. Thus, some property owners will have tax increases below the ten year mill change and others had them higher.
“The primary reason for the increase has been the reduction in state revenues, reduction in the use of fund balance, lower grand list increases and lower interest rates on investments,” said Lee. “However, the increase of the mill rate has primarily impacted commercial and industrial properties with many residential properties seeing increases more in line with the rate of inflation and the social security increases.”
Lee said that over the 10 year period, the town has been able to “begin a road bond program, enhance recreational facilities, enhance educational opportunities, maintain infrastructure and continue to provide essentially the same level of services that maintains our quality of life.”
“Due to the difficulties facing the state budget, the question becomes ‘how long can this pattern of relatively low increases to the local property tax continue going forward while maintaining the same level of service to which our citizens have become accustomed?’,” said Lee.
The Town Council and Board of Education will meet Jan. 15 from 4 to 9 p.m. in the Peter Chase Auditorium of Plainville Public Library at 56 E. Main St. for a joint meeting to discuss this year’s budget. The public is invited to attend.