NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Cities and town leaders across the state have had to blindly set their municipal budget and tax rates because of the budget stalemate at the State Capitol. It’s causing an unprecedented budget situation for city and town leaders.
Half of the towns in a survey by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities report service cutbacks, hiring freezes, and deferring public works projects.
The first installment of of local ‘Property Tax‘ bills is due by one week from today so there’s a steady stream of people at local ‘Tax Collectors’ offices around the state. The bills this year are really just a guess at what you owe because city and town leaders have had to prepare municipal budgets not knowing when or if any of the usual aid from the state is going to arrive.
Four term Republican First Selectman Mike Freda of North Haven is one of the municipal leaders that has put together a budget with no tax increase. Like some other towns he has a rainy day fund but knows it won’t last forever.
We had a couple of people leave and we have not replaced them yet. We’re putting a hold on spending right now until we have a determination or receive a determination as to what the state revenue is going to be for us.”
See Related: House GOP budget plan calls for no tax hikes
The Speaker of the House keeps saying he’s optimistic about having a budget plan in place by the end of the month but almost no one else at the Capitol believes that will happen. “We’ve got to get to a complete budget and the sooner we do it the better,” said Governor Malloy adding, “and quite frankly I don’t get to set the rules or call the questions in the House or the Senate.”
If this does drag for months, town and city leaders have few options. “One would be a supplementary tax bill which we’re not planning on doing here in North Haven. The second would be a decimation of services which I’m trying to stay away from,” said Freda.
The one good thing about getting your local Property Tax bill by July 1st is that you know what the second payment is going to be in January and can plan ahead. But for some communities, that may not happen this year. “If the bottom drops out, that’s where you could see a second tax bill coming in January,” said Kevin Maloney of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
For a town like North Haven there’s a third option; don’t do anything because they have a rainy day fund they have a new Amazon warehouse coming town town which will greatly improve their tax base but many other communities may not be so fortunate.