Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
New tax numbers released as school board set to make cuts

By: Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
May 14, 2007

VERNON - As the Board of Education readies to cut programs at its meeting tonight, new figures on the tax impact of the proposed budget were released.

Last week, the Town Council cobbled together a new proposed budget by shifting funds and trimming accounts in hopes that the new $73.79 million spending package will survive Tuesday's referendum.

The first $74.7 million budget was hotly rejected by a 2-to-1 margin May 1 with mostly older taxpayers coming out to the polls.

The new budget proposal represents a 4.36 percent increase over this year's spending of $70.7 million.

The tax rate needed to fund the new proposed budget is 33.4 mills, which is a 9 percent decrease over the current mill rate of 36.73.

That figure has been causing confusion for many residents, however, as it is higher than the tax rate needed to fund the previous budget defeated in the last referendum.

With the proposed budget being cut by roughly $1 million, many expected the tax rate to fall as well.

The tax rate increase comes from a Town Council decision to phase in revaluation over the next three years. That decision was made hours after the first budget was defeated.

A soaring real estate market and subsequent October 2006 revaluation, which is required every 10 years under state law, caused property values and assessments to increase sharply.

Following the recent Town Council decision, the new 33.4-mill rate will not be applied entirely to assessments, but rather incrementally to the phased-in values.

According to figures released late Friday by Finance Director Jim Luddecke, the portion of the tax change related to the first phase-in year of revaluation accounts for 77.52 percent, while the portion that correlates to the budget increase amounts to 22.48 percent.

Broken down, that means the owner of a typical house with a market value of $172,857 that is assessed at $121,000 can expect to pay an additional $231 under the new proposed budget. Of that amount, $179 of the tax bill can be attributed to revaluation while $52 goes towards the budget increase, Luddecke says.

The owner of a house with a market value of $128,571 that is assessed at $90,000 can expect to pay $176 more in taxes, of which $136 could be attributed to phase in while $40 would go to the budget increase.

Under the previous defeated budget, nearly half the houses in town would have seen their tax bills go up by $517 next year.

All figures include typical motor vehicle taxes.

Included in the new proposed $73.7 million budget is the school spending plan, now standing at $44.211 million, which is 3.2 percent more than this year's $42.842 million budget.

The school board originally had proposed a $45.1 million budget.

The Board of Education will meet tonight and begin discussion on how to meet nearly $1 million in reductions made by the mayor and council over the last few weeks.

Also integrated in the entire town spending package is general government spending, which accounts for $25.368 million, or 6.4 percent more than this year's $23.850 million budget.

Capital improvements and debt service, which is driven by an increase in bond repayments, are budgeted at $4.212 million, or 4.94 percent more than this year's $4.014 million.

Voting for the new proposed budget will take place Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Center 375 at 375 Hartford Turnpike. Those eligible to vote also include owners of property assessed at more than $1,000.

Copies of the proposed budget can be viewed at the senior center on Park Street and Rockville Library on Union Street. Summaries can be obtained in the town clerk's office in Town Hall or viewed on the town's Web page:

Results of the referendum will be posed Tuesday night on the Journal Inquirer Web site:

©Journal Inquirer 2007