FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield residents would see a 6.4 percent increase in their property taxes this summer if First Selectman Michael Tetreau’s budget plan goes through unchanged.
The proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year calls for more than $287.3 million in town spending, an increase of $15 million over the current year.
“In this budget I have two overarching goals,” Tetreau said. “One is to maintain the services that our residents need and expect at a cost we can afford. The second is to restore our town’s financial stability.”
To cover its expenses, Fairfield would need to raise its mill rate to 24.86, up from 23.27. That means that a property assessed at $500,000 would pay $795 in additional taxes per year starting July 1.
The largest piece of the increase would go to Fairfield’s public schools. The Board of Education requested a 4.6 percent increase in funding next fiscal year. Tetreau’s proposal would cut that by $1.1 million, for an increase of about $5.8 million.
Most of the school district’s increase was to cover higher than expected health insurance payments. Tetreau said Tuesday night that his cut comes from new estimates for health care costs and won’t affect school programs.
Another piece of the increase would pay for heightened public safety. Tetreau plans to add three new officers and a sergeant to the Fairfield police for a new School Security Unit that may also spread to other town facilities, such as the Fairfield Public Library.
“We want everyone to have a safe environment to work and to learn,” Tetreau said.
Fairfield senior citizens would also get improved programs as part of the increase. Tetreau proposed adding a full-time director and a part-time receptionist at the Fairfield Senior Center, as requested by the senior center’s Top 10 Committee. The recently approved expansion of the senior tax relief program would also cost the town about $1.2 million in revenue.
Tetreau also announced plans to set up a Service Evaluation Committee to look into ways to cut spending in the future. The group would look at what services the town could eliminate and more efficient ways to run its current programs. The committee would also ask other towns how they run their services.
“I think it’s very important that the town bodies get together and determine what services the town can afford to provide versus what we can no longer afford to provide,” Board of Finance Chairman Thomas Flynn said Tuesday.