Norwich to issue motor vehicle tax bills Oct. 1

Norwich — The lack of an approved state budget prompted city officials to delay motor vehicle tax bills and delay new hiring and budgeted position cuts until Oct. 1, hoping the state budget would be in place by then, giving the city final state grant figures that cover some 30 percent of city expenses.

The continuing state budget impasse Monday prompted city administrators to ask the City Council to delay position cuts and new hiring for another month, until Nov. 1, including delaying plans to cut one police officer position, a housing/code enforcement officer and the city recycling coordinator position. The council voted unanimously Monday to approve the delay. The plan to hire a part-time recreation director also is being delayed until Nov. 1.

The delayed position cuts and hiring is expected to have a “neutral” effect on the overall budget, but might necessitate budget transfers among city departments later in the fiscal year, the council resolution stated.

But City Comptroller Josh Pothier informed the City Council that the finance office will issue motor vehicle tax bills Oct. 1. Norwich delayed issuing motor vehicle bills because that falls under a state statute enacted last year that caps motor vehicle taxes at 32 mills for municipalities with property tax rates higher than 32 mills. Norwich’s citywide tax rate for 2017-18 is 40.52 mills, with residents in the paid fire district paying another 8.22 mills.

The statute calls for the state to reimburse the city for the difference, but city officials were unsure whether the state legislature would change that law in the current budget crisis.

“If the state later adopts a budget with a higher cap,” Pothier wrote in a memo to Mayor Deberey Hinchey, the council and City Manager John Salomone, “the city will issue another round of motor vehicle bills for the difference.”

Alderwoman Joanne Philbrick asked if the city conducted interviews yet for any of the positions slated to be filled in the budget. Pothier told the council that interviews for the recreation director position are scheduled for this week. Philbrick complained that it would be unfair to interview candidates and then make them wait indefinitely for an answer.

c.bessette@theday.com

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