Tax Rate Set At 19.77 Mills For Upcoming Year

$78.8 Million Budget Increased Tax Rate From 18.79 Mills To 19.77 Mills

Wednesday night, the Board of Finance set the tax rate for the 2012-13 Fiscal Year at 19.77 mills, an increase of .98 mills from the current year’s rate of 18.79 mills.

The new tax rate will take effect in the July tax bills. The tax rate of 19.77 mills means that a person with a property assessed at $100,000 will pay $1,977 in taxes, a $98 increase from a tax rate at 18.79 mills on the same piece of property.

The tax rate reflected the increase needed after the Representative Town Meeting – a 6 percent increase from this year’s $74.3 million total. Residents can still demand a referendum on specific lines items in the budget by May 24th if they acquire and submit 635 signatures, according to information from Finance Director Rudie Beers and Town Clerk Bob Nye.

Lower Collection Rate

For the first time in years, the Board of Finance set the expected tax collection rate at 98.9 percent, lower than the usual total of 99.1 percent. The reason was because less and less people have been able to pay their taxes, a symptom of a poor economy, according to Tax Collector Mark Burnham.

Right now, the town is on pace to collect just under 99 percent of all taxes due for the fiscal year, Burnham said. Before 2008, the town would easily collect over 99.1 percent of taxes, but since then the number has been around 99 percent, he said.

"It is a symptom of the economy,” Burnham said. “People are struggling.”

The Board of Finance did expect a higher return of last year’s taxes, as there are more outstanding tax bills to collect. If the Board of Finance would have set the expected collectable tax rate at 99.1 percent, the tax rate for the upcoming year would have been 18.75 mills.

Property Owner May 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM
People are struggling and we can't collect as much in taxes because of that, so let's crank up the tax rate. Nice. You have let the tax payers down (again). What will it be next year, a 10% increase? Make some hard decisions, and cut the budget, just like most families and businesses has needed to do in the past 4 years.
Jennifer May 17, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I agree with Property Owner! Why are local and federal government exempt from cutting and/or sticking to a balanced budget when my family has had to continually find ways to cut our expenses and stick to a budget? Where do they (our town) expect us to keep getting more money from to pay our taxes???
Property Owner May 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM
That's because they are out of touch with reality. Should I pay for food for my family, health care and fuel to get to work, or cut back on in order to pay taxes to a town that doesn't know how to budget correctly..... Just wait, these steep increases won't end.
Norman Glidden May 17, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I want you to know that I have heard the taxpayers message and did not vote in favor of either the budget or the tax increase. I also did not vote for the budget in 2010 or 2011. I am very disappointed in the outcome of this budget session and the increased burden which has to be carried by the taxpayers.
Property Owner May 17, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Thank you, Mr. Glidden. It's honestly out of control. I'm all for slight increases if justifiable. However, this much, this fast, is a slap in the face to tax payers in these times. I can only imagine how the senior citizens of this town, who have contributed to it's prosperity over the past decades are feeling about this. A very sad day and time in Waterford. Those who voted for this should be ashamed.
Carol May 17, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Let's take it to a REFERENDUM, I know this family can no afford a tax increase! Where do they think people can come up with the money for all the spending that they do? This is a symptom of the politicians spending above their needs. Thank you Norman Glidden for thinking of the people while the others think we make money in our basements!
Maggie L. May 17, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I have read the minutes of the budget hearings and there were no public comments. Where were all the people who are now complaining? What is your solution? What services are you willing to give up or pay for in order to continue to have them? At the budget hearings when the chair calls for public comment, that's the time to speak up. Apparently there is no one who has a solution or cares to take the time to attend the hearings. It's not just seniors who are affected. My husband and I are in the same position as everyone else. Our income is also fixed and I have never gotten a bill from a utility or any other vendor saying they are reducing their rates. It's all about choices. What are you willing to give up in order to reduce your budget? What services are you willing to give up?
Joe/Ct May 17, 2012 at 02:04 PM
There are more options than just giving up services. For example, if student enrolement is decreasing, can't we still maintain the same teacher-student ratio by decreasing the munber of teachers? Or should we review the size of government? Or, if the insurance premiums have increased, have we really shopped around for the "best bang for the buck"? Or maybe Waterford should be self-insured? Just thinking out loud....
Property Owner May 17, 2012 at 02:05 PM
I knew that comment would be coming.... As Mr. Glidden stated, they are aware of the public outcry, that's why he voted against it. Examples? For one, renovating/building 5 schools in 5 years, the maintenance/repair/eventual replacement of a $500,000 police boat (didn't Goshen Fire Department just get a new one too?). It's also time to tell the the unions to re-think their stance on raises or face layoffs. Raises? Yes, the town handed them out this year. Why is it only Waterford needs to increase this much, this fast? With the amount of rapid commercial development in town, I thought it would bring the hopes to offset these types of increases. Guess not. Where's that money going? Doing this SLOWS to growth of the local economic conditions.
Cheryl L May 17, 2012 at 02:46 PM
I also did not vote in favor of the budget or the tax increase. I argued vehemently for a $6000 decrease in the $9000 INCREASE in the Recreation & Parks program budget and was met with substantial resistance. I also did not vote in favor of the Board of Education budget for the first time. On our first go round with the BOE, I asked and received confirmation from the superintendent and his staff that the BOE had previously underspent significantly on budgeted salaries and wages, diverting those funds to other expenses and programs, some of them new and untested. Those questions barely raised the eyebrow of others and instead led to statements in support of the BOE's diversion of those funds to unbudgeted expenses. Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple as some believe and lay off employees, that only adds others to the unemployment rolls and increases the town's unemployment tax. A place to start would be for departments that consistently overspend or just flat over budget to take a step back, out of the box and look at how they do business and make some changes. I would urge them to start now in the community interest, the benefits will be endless.
fedspy May 17, 2012 at 03:15 PM
blah, blah , and blah. nothing is going to happen. the union runs the town, as with every town and city in ct. with support from the state legislature, especially when comes to education, mandated programs , staffing levels, etc. taxpayers are not represented with the current system, a state law such as in ma. was enacted requiring a voter approval if the budget goes over 2.5%. not some referendum. it is not a revenue problem , it is a spending problem. lets talk salaries and benefits so the taxpayers who pay their salaries can evaluate what is reasonable. what can the town afford, not a carte blanche system for the unions under democratic controls or union representatives on elected boards making demands or signing contracts for time periods with built raises and cost of living. social security did not have cost of living for the past 3 years as a comparison. collective bargaining is too broad favoring the unions. freeze, rescind, eliminate, espcially in the education dept., with the exception of the classroom teacher who is the worker, all the rest is just fluff. i'm done.
Dave May 17, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Norman & Cheryl, I can appreciate you voting no to the entire budget but you will still not get a pass...The RTM let a $700 expense in bottled water for the building dept go through, Why don't we provide all the employees with snacks for snack time too while we are at it. How many town citizens get bottled water from their employers? Not many I'm guessing. I realize this is only $700 in a 74 million dollar budget but it is waste. The RTM could have set an example and put every dept head on notice that this type of spending will not be tolerated. How many more examples of this kind of waste are in the budget? I'm guessing plenty...
Property Owner May 17, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I appreciate that some of the decision makers are posting here. Who's responsibility would it be to "force" those department heads to look closer. Also, why is Waterford having these massive increases year after year, and East Lyme and other towns are not. I'm sure they are experiencing the same issues that Waterford is. Are they handling them better? And yes, I'm responsible to bring my own bottled water to work.
Dave May 17, 2012 at 06:01 PM
From the above picture... looks like Ron Fedor bought his own coffee....no one supplied the RTM with bottled water! I'm sure they really worked up a sweat over this budget!
Paul Petrone (Editor) May 17, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Just for the record no Board of Finance member proposed any cuts during the budget reviews that would have any real significance to the tax rate.
John Sheehan May 17, 2012 at 08:02 PM
As I noted in the columns I wrote between the BOF and the RTM budget hearings, one mill is around $3.69 million and one tenth of a mill is $369,000. It is hard to find large dollar cuts when union contracts are off limits to the BOF, and the debt service, insurance, including health care, and employee retirement costs are also untouchable. It is pound foolish to eliminate capital expenses because large ticket maintenance is cheaper wihen done sooner rather than later. If you want personnel costs to drop, the public needs to flood the First Selectman with demands that his negotiating team drive a hard bargain with the unions. Unfortunately, that may help in the future but definitely not this year and probably not next year. It will require some deferred gratification.
Dave Lersch May 17, 2012 at 08:44 PM
John, thanks for your explanation for the origin of our tax burden. Someone negotiated those lucrative union contracts in the first place. Folks, we need to keep our eye on the next rounds of negotiations and pay special attention to the elected officials are overly eager to appease their demands! I have nothing but admiration for teachers, police and town employees, however others of us who don't receive annual increases in compensation can't keep being asked to contribute more to support increases in pay and benefits.
ZIGGY May 17, 2012 at 09:36 PM
whah whah whah!-----then demand a referendum in the budget by May 24th (read the article above)-------------complaining here is NOT going to change anything!---otherwise suck it up!
Paul May 17, 2012 at 10:05 PM
As a citizen, I am confused by your comment. You voted against the budget because you wanted to see more cuts or additions to the budget? You voted to restore money to the Parks & Rec. Budget. However, you fail to mention that in your comment! Please don't act as if you looked for cuts in this budget!
Paul May 17, 2012 at 10:14 PM
America got its Bridge to no where while Waterford got a $700 water cooler! What a joke! Please don't tell me this budget was gone over line item by line item! I do not care what it takes to the move the mil rate up or down if something can not be justified in the budget it should not be there. A $700 dollar water cooler was not justified. This only begs the question what else in the budget was not justified?? We have a BOS, BOF, RTM, & BOE that are supposed to be the checks & balances of the town. It appears that these republican majority elected officials only know how to write checks instead of save money! Whats worse is the minority democrats went along with it! The public better start showing up to the meetings or expect 5 to 7% increases every year!
Wayne Gilpin May 18, 2012 at 12:12 AM
When the administrators defend their budgets with, "I don't controll 80% of my budget due to contractual obligations.", it begs the question, "Then why exactly do we need you Mr(s). Administrator?"
Paul May 18, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Wayne you are 100% correct. You can also add to that when administrators tell elected officials that colleagues from other towns are paid the same but the other town is currently having a wage freeze but conveniently leave that information out it begs the question can you trust certain administrators. In addition, can you trust elected officials who vote for budgets or contracts who have immediate family members working for that particular department??
Maggie L. May 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM
From your comments it appears that you believe the building dept. is providing employees with bottles of water. I believe if you check the budget more carefully, you will find that the expense is to provide spring water for water dispensers in town hall. I belive there are in 2 departments. I do not believe that it is unreasonable to provide drinking water for employees to stay hydrated throughout the day. We do want our employees to stay healthy and providing a source of water is part of that.
Paul May 18, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Maggie, have you heard of tap water! In addition, I believe public works, the fire fighters, & the police all perform jobs in which they too need to stay hydrated. How are they getting their water? Plus everyone should stay properly hydrated regardless of their job and we all don't rely on a $700 water cooler! But then again maybe the town will start having happy hour at town hall. Come one come all hydration for all!
Maggie L. May 18, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Can't wait for happy hours to begin. I'm there!!
Property Owner May 22, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Ledyard just passed their 2012-2013 budget with NO increase to taxpayers... How is Waterford so different that we have almost a 6% increase in one year?


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