Property taxes in Ansonia will remain flat next year, according to a budget voted on by a committee of Aldermen Tuesday.
The spending plan won’t be finalized until next week, when a public hearing and vote by the full Board of Aldermen is scheduled.
And even then, officials say, they’ll still be worried about when and how the state’s budget process will wrap up — and what it will mean in terms of the tens of millions of dollars in state aid the city relies on annually.
The public hearing and Aldermen’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 20 at the high school.
For a distressed city like Ansonia, the anxiety over state funding has made what is usually a stressful process downright bleak.
The city’s grand list is increasing, but not nearly as fast as big-ticket expenses like health care, contractually obligated salaries and mandated education costs.
The Aldermen’s finance committee has worked through the budget line by line for months after Mayor David Cassetti presented a “worst case scenario” spending plan that would have cut the library more than 75 percent, as well as youth sports and the ambulance service.
The mayor’s budget proposal would also have taken more than $4 million from the city’s fund balance to stabilize the mill rate, the fourth straight year the city would use its bank account as revenue.
A budget consultant for the city said that would leave the fund balance at about $4.3 million. He called it “very dangerous,” and “way too low.”
Click here for a previous story with more background.
And click here to read every story and guest column the Valley Indy has published about the budget.
During Tuesday’s subcommittee meeting, Assistant Comptroller Rich Bshara recommended a number of adjustments, including assuming the state will deliver $659,986 more in education aid than last year.
The budget would take about $500,000 less from the fund balance than the mayor’s spending proposal.
Cassetti pledged after the meeting not to take from the fund balance next year if re-elected this fall.
Bshara also recommended a change in the way the budget anticipated the state implementing a planned motor vehicle tax cap.
But he cautioned the Aldermen that things are still uncertain at the capitol.
“That’s my best shot at this to get you where you want to be and keep the numbers in line,” Bshara said. “Again, we don’t know, it’s fluid, it’s a guess. But it’s my best guess.”
The budget’s overall bottom line is $61,522,339.
The school district would receive $31,860,484, a year-to-year budget increase of $800,000, or 2.58 percent.
The Board of Education has already cut 16 positions for next year, resulting in at least nine layoffs.
Its president, Bill Nimons, said after Tuesday’s subcommittee meeting that the budget the Aldermen voted on will stave off any more cuts for now.
And if the state happens to deliver millions more than expected in revenue, they could restore some of the lost positions.
But, he said, “we don’t expect that to happen.”
The budget proposal is below.