It took almost a month longer than a typical year as Southington boards grappled with the budget problems at the state capitol, but Southington finally closed the books on Southington’s budget for fiscal year 2017-18.
On June 14, the Board of Finance unanimously approved a mill rate increase as the final touch.
“Based upon our recommendation to the Town Council and their vote, the mill rate needed would be 30.48, up from 29. 64,” BOF chair John Leary said.
Leary explained that, based on the grand list, each 1 mill increase equates to an additional $4 million in taxes. The 0.84 mill increase was needed to fund the approved town budget.
All together, the budget is $143,396,270, which includes the town’s operating budget, Board of Education, sewer fund, and Animal Control.
General property tax from Southington tax payers—whether it’s on houses, businesses, property, or vehicles—is $120 million. Additionally, $18 million of Southington’s dollars used in the budget come from state grants, most of which goes to the BOE.
Because the town relies heavily on state funds, the BOF included a $3 million contingency in their budget recommendation that was sent to the council.
The increase marks the first time that Southington’s mill rate has surpassed 30 mills.
“The main driver in the [mill rate] increase comes down to this board’s recommendation to set aside $3 million, undesignated, for anticipated changes in the state budget because we are very dependent on state aid,” Leary said during the meeting.
The increase should allow Southington greater independence from the ongoing fiscal problems in Hartford. Should the state grants change or not come through, there will be contingency money already built into the budget.
Both the Council and the BOF recognized the state’s financial crisis and said they want to be proactive, knowing what is ahead.
During the Council meeting on June 12, Paul Champagne said Connecticut is only addressing one-third of its problem in this fiscal year, leaving the other two-thirds for next year.
Once tax bills are released, residents will have a 30-day window to pay their respective taxes to the town.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.