Op-Ed: Budget Update and New Mill Rate

[Todd Lavieri is chair of the Board of Finance.]
In our effort to continue to provide up to date information, here are some background facts and context to get everyone up to speed with where we are as we set the mill rate for next year’s budget which begins on July 1st. Right now, we are projected to finish the year with a $3.9 million surplus. Expenses will be about $1.8 million less than budgeted, and our revenue will be $2.1 million more than budgeted. While that is very good, it is a little below our earlier expectations driven by slightly less revenue in some areas. Our goal every year is to give our surplus back to the taxpayers and we will do it again this year.

Op-Ed: Property Taxes And The Budget Process

As part of our goal to keep the town informed and provide meaningful updates from time to time, this is a follow up to my summary last month regarding property revaluations. The purpose of this letter is to continue to communicate our process and to set a range of expectations given the large swings in valuations that we have seen. We don’t have all the budget facts at this point and assumptions continue to move around since my note last month. We are just starting the budget process, and just completing the revaluation assessments. As a reminder, new assessments were mailed out to property owners in December.

Board of Finance Chair: Understanding the Recent Revaluation

The Town of New Canaan has completed our latest property revaluations. New assessments have been mailed out to property owners. Mandated every 10 years, this most recent revaluation saw an estimated 25% surge in the total value of properties in New Canaan, known as the Grand List, from $8 billion to $10 billion. This level of increase is unprecedented. Property taxes are calculated through the use of a mill rate.

Chair: Board of Finance Funds Schools and Programs without Raising Taxes

The Board of Finance approved the Town budget on March 4th. The comprehensive budget we sent to the Town Council fully funds our schools, police, fire, and town programs. The budget supports our parks, all the health and human services requests including important programs such as Kids in Crisis, all the emergency services, town sports, town departments, Bristow Bird sanctuary, and so many other important programs and initiatives, including the necessary capital needs for buildings, roads, and equipment including a new roof at the High School. We were able to support all these important programs and departments while keeping funds raised through taxation flat again for the fourth year in a row. This was a very difficult goal to accomplish this year, but everyone did an incredible job. Through careful spending and planning, we have not cut school programs, sports, arts, teachers, important social programs, emergency services, and safety spending, or been forced to raise taxes as many districts have done across Connecticut. 

We also know that we still face uncertainty with Covid.