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Highlights of the proposed North Haven annual Budget for the Fiscal Year 2019-’20 were presented at the April 2 public hearing by the first selectman and superintendent of schools. Despite no mill rate change, the $4.9 million budget increase ties the record for the highest budget growth in our town’s history. I firmly believe that with some carefully chosen spending reductions, we could achieve a win-win: a modest budget increase and a mill rate decrease.
The suggestion made in a recent social media post that the only choices available to the North Haven taxpayers are a zero-percent increase on this year’s municipal taxes and investing in the town or a reduction in the mill rate with the knowledge that next year could be a higher increase is simply illogical. If we approve a smaller budget base and maintain a modest growth rate (less than three percent), then the chances of a tax increase in the future are lower. If we approve the proposed large (4.9 percent) increase to the budget (6.6 percent for the town and 2.9 percent for the Board of Education), then the base will be higher for all future fiscal years. A tax increase would be inevitable.
The proposed budget increase is made possible by a $2.5 million transfer from our rainy day fund (so much for the lockbox analogy). This allocation lowers the balance of our General Fund below the level necessary for the coveted AAA bond rating. The reduction in reserves compromises our town’s financial stability and ability to offset current and future uncertainties with the state budget. In these financially uncertain times, it is wise to be fiscally conservative. If your readers agree, I encourage them to vote “No” at the May 2 North Haven Budget Referendum.
Nancy E.V. Barrett
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