MERIDEN – The city council voted 9-2 on Monday to approve a $ 202.86 million budget that will use approximately $ 1.2 million of expected funds under the American Rescue Plan Act to keep taxpayers safe from a hike to preserve the property tax.
The council’s actions will effectively keep the city’s property tax rate at $ 40.86 million instead of the projected $ 41.25 million that would have been achieved without ARPA. At $ 40.86 million, a property worth $ 200,000 has property tax of $ 5,720 per year, which is $ 230 less than a higher rate. One grinder is worth an estimated $ 1,000. According to legal regulations, however, real estate must be taxed at 70 percent of its estimated value.
The budget is the third in the last three years to have an unchanged or decreased milling rate. The decision to budget in anticipation of an ARPA relief without the money in hand came after an extensive review of the law with federal leaders and various professional government workers’ organizations, city administrator Timothy Coon said.
“We took advantage of some good news that got in our way,” Coon said during the meeting. “We are confident that the city is in good financial shape – that is, we are paying our bills. We have a strong and desirable bond rating, as evidenced by the fact that we have saved millions of dollars in borrowing costs. “
The city’s Standard & Poor’s bond rating is AA +, Coon said Tuesday.
The ARPA money will replace the monies the city is likely to lose due to the pandemic or to pay for the services it has created. The budget included ARPA funds of $ 720,000 in the expected investment income account and $ 30,000 in building income fees to offset the expected losses, said finance director Kevin McNabola.
Another $ 450,000 in aid will go towards the salary of the city’s nurses, which is paid for the city’s health department and school nurses who have been at the forefront of efforts to contain the coronavirus, Coon said.
Another $ 16,000 will go into a police department overtime account to help hire a school clerk at Thomas Edison Middle School, Coon said.
City councils expressed mixed views on the infusion of federal funds.
City council didn’t do enough to cut city spending and instead passed a typical low-cost budget, said Republican councilor Michael Carabetta, who voted against the budget with Republican councilor Dan Brunet.
“I don’t think we’ll get to zero with this grant money [percent mill rate increase] didn’t bring us anything, ”said Carabetta. “I don’t think we did the job, and I’m a little annoyed with the city’s taxpayers.”
The council should be proud of its work, said councilors Michael Cardona and Michael S. Rohde, both Democrats.
“I do not see it as a failure to maintain a constant milling rate without increasing the mill and without reducing services to residents,” said Cardona, the deputy mayor.
Rohde rubbed against Carabetta’s claim that the council had not cut spending. The city departments are “working to the limit” and the number of employees in the city is at its lowest level in years. The competition for qualified workers is “tough”, said Rohde.
City leaders should start planning the end of the bailout’s funds or there will be a huge funding squeeze, Councilor Larue Graham said.
According to McNabola, Meriden is expected to receive approximately $ 24.8 million in ARPA funding.
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