Trumbull finance board axes trash hauler fees, lowers 2021-22 tax hike to under 2%

TRUMBULL – Next year’s tax burdens could turn out to be a little lower than previously assumed following a series of financial maneuvers by the finance committee on Wednesday evening.

In a series of votes over the course of the three-hour meeting, members slightly increased First Selectman Vicki Tesoro’s budget proposal for 2021-22 while removing a proposed garbage disposal fee.

The budget approved by the board also does not use money from the city’s general fund and reduces the projected tax increase from 3.17 percent to 1.92 percent.

Ultimately, the board approved a proposed budget of $ 184 million for 2021-22, an increase of $ 166,746 over Tesoro’s proposed $ 183.87 million. This difference corresponds to about 0.07 percent.

“The aim was to minimize the impact on taxpayers, give top priority to schools and public safety, and ensure the general fund stays strong,” said board member Martin Isaac.

In a brief presentation before the board looked at the original $ 183.87 million spending plan, Isaac stated that since Tesoro presented its budget on March 1, the city had learned that the American bailout plan was substantial would bring financial relief.

“The city will receive approximately $ 10 million and the Board of Education will receive approximately $ 1.7 million,” said Isaac. “This is really good news for the city.”

The funds, spread over two years, allowed the city to scrap Tesoro’s proposal to use $ 1.9 million from the general fund to fund a potential tax hike to scrap planned garbage haulage charges, about $ 100,000 to add to the budget of the city ministry and to reduce the proposed land tax increase.

“We are in a very strong position from our point of view,” said Isaac.

The tax office has no line item control over the education committee’s funds, but Isaac said between federal funds, a projected surplus of $ 2 million this year and $ 217,000 in energy rebates, schools could – if the school board so wishes – close the Persistent deficits in the special accounts for income and lunch make the difference between the original request from the school board and the allocation of Tesoro.

“That creates solvency and fully funds Ed’s board of directors,” he said.

Republicans on the board, Steve Choi and Elaine Hammers, challenged the wisdom of allocating funds that were promised but not yet delivered. Hammers also questioned whether the proposed use of federal funds in the coming years, when that money was no longer available, would create a funding cliff.

“I’m concerned that the $ 5 million a year is a one-off attempt and that some of these items are actually budgeted (say, $ 100,000 for the city departments or more for the Board of Ed,” said Hammers “You want to offset certain increases in sales, such as not using the credit or charging the freight forwarders. But when it (federal money) is gone in two years, you won’t have that funding.”

CEO Lainie McHugh was optimistic that the big list, the sum of all taxable properties in the city, will grow over the next two years as several new residential complexes open and add to the tax list.

“I hope the big list will adjust to that over two years,” she said.

School funding led to the only major disagreement after Choi proposed adding just over $ 886,000 to Tesoro’s proposed $ 112.3 million allocation and praised the leadership of Superintendent Martin Semmel, who has been on duty since September . Tesoro’s recommendation was about $ 450,000 less than the school board asked for. The application ultimately failed 4: 2 from a party-political point of view.

“I just think Dr. Semmel did a great job,” said Choi. “Given the current situation, the Board of Ed needs all the support they can get. This is an opportunity to start with a clean board and see Dr. To give bread what he needs. “

Isaac responded that the finance committee’s allocation was enough to fully fund the schools and that the proposed increase would only double the projected surplus of the school system.

“Remember, the Board of Ed’s budget closed before they understood they were getting a dime from the federal government,” he said.

Hammers disagreed, saying Semmel spoke about funding shortages during their budget hearings.

“He talked about shipping $ 917,000 and $ 245,000 for classes in Magnet School,” said Hammers.

The Democrat Michael Barker was adamant.

“This plan funds – over-financed – the Board of Ed’s motion in full. It just does, ”he said.

Barker also penalized the GOP contingent for not attending the budget working sessions, calling Hammers’ complaints about seeing the budget numbers that day “nonsense”.

“We have given you ample opportunities to attend working sessions and you have not raised any of them,” he said.

Hammers said the board members held public talks but the final numbers that the Democrats were about to produce were never released.

“I’ve been on this board for many years and never refused to work on anything and I am not refusing now,” she said. “I’m going to stack my 30 years on this board against anyone.”

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