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New Derby Budget Raises Taxes

by Eugene Driscoll | May 27, 2016 5:57 am

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Posted to: Derby

Photo: Eugene DriscollThe Derby tax board adopted a $41 million budget Thursday that raises taxes by 3.6 mills.

The impact on your wallet depends on how your property fared during the recent revaluation, but tax board members had said numerous times a 4 mill increase would cost the average single-family property owner $300 more in taxes.

The tax board allocation for Derby Public Schools totaled $17.7 million.

The board trimmed $65,000 from the Derby Board of Education’s budget request. The schools will also see a $40,000 decrease in funding from the state’s “alliance district” program for struggling districts.

Superintendent Matthew Conway said the district just learned this week that an employee with more than 30 years experience will be retiring. That retirement will help the school district absorb the fact the district isn’t getting as much money as the school board requested.

Otherwise, the district may have chosen to lay off a teacher at Derby Middle School, Conway said, or make a number of other budget adjustments.

Derby Storm Ambulance and Rescue Corps received a $90,000 allocation from the tax board. That’s more than the $50,000 allocation the tax board had been considering.

The Derby Police Department received $3.7 million from the tax board. The allocation came after a long discussion about possibly laying off a police officer to save money.

Derby Police Chief Gerald Narowski said the city would first have to lay off two part-time officers and then eliminate the department’s voluntary auxiliary program before targeting an officer, per the police union’s contract.

The police department would then have to spend more on overtime to make up for the terminated officer, Narowski said.

Members of the tax board were not happy about raising taxes.

There was a rather long silence when it came time to vote on the budget at the end of a meeting Thursday in City Hall. No one wanted to take ownership of the spending plan, it seemed.

Tax board member Sam Pollastro said dealing with Derby’s budget has kept him up at night. He voted yes, but said he only did so because the tax board is on a deadline to create a budget and that voting “no” would have hurt the city.

“I’m not happy with anything in this budget,” Pollastro said.

Tax board members have said this year’s budget cycle was difficult because properties lost value during the revaluation and the city is seeing a loss of state aid. In addition, the city’s health insurance is increasing significantly.

But Pollastro, who is also the city’s Republican Party leader, said city Aldermen and Mayor Anita Dugatto did not do enough to save money in preparation for a very bad year. He said the city should not have purchased blighted properties at various spots around the city along with properties in the city’s downtown redevelopment zone.

The money spent on property purchases should have gone to tax relief, Pollastro said.

But Dugatto’s administration has said buying the properties is an important step toward downtown redevelopment. Purchasing blighted properties elsewhere is needed to preserve neighborhoods and reduce density, Aldermen have often said.

“It’s a difficult year. We worked hard and we have to live with it,” Dugatto said of the budget.

The Derby Water Pollution Control Authority also met Thursday night. There is no rate increase for the sewer system, and an approximate $300 increase on sewer bills for system repairs has been delayed. Click here for more info on the WPCA budget.

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