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Groton City's proposed budget to go to public hearing on April 19

Groton — City of Groton Mayor Keith Hedrick is proposing a fiscal year 2022 budget that holds the tax rate at its current level of 4.3 mills.

The City Council began its department-by-department reviews of the budget on Monday night, and the proposed spending plan will go to a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. April 19. Information on how to join the hearing by Zoom is posted on the meeting agenda, which can be found at bit.ly/gc21budgetagenda.

Hedrick said he is happy the city was able to develop a budget that keeps the tax rate flat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're trying to be respectful of the taxpayers and understand that they're going through hard times and trying to minimize any financial burdens on them," he said in a phone interview.

The proposed budget for next year is $19,992,489, which represents an increase of $2,078,043 over the current year's budget.

"The large increase in the proposed budget includes contractual services for assistance with the additional inspections that may be required due to large construction projects," Hedrick wrote in a letter to the City Council.

The city also has contractual raises and increases in nondepartmental expenses, such as insurance and workman's compensation, and is putting aside money for capital projects in the city and future vehicle purchases, he said by phone.

Despite those increases, the city is able to keep taxes flat due to revenue from permit fees from construction, primarily at Electric Boat, that go into the undesignated fund balance, he said.

Specifically, the budget uses $2.6 million from the fund balance, which leaves the town with a healthy fund balance of 24.1% of expenditures, he said. He said banks recommend a reserve of between 20% and 25% of expenditures.

The City Council met Monday to discuss the general government, human resources, planning and economic development, and finance budgets and then will discuss sanitation, building maintenance and fire budgets on April 19 and parks and recreation and building and zoning budgets on April 26.

The council has to approve the budget on May 17, and the annual budget meeting for the public to vote on the spending plan is scheduled for June 7.

The format of the annual budget meeting will be determined closer to the date, but Hedrick pointed out that the city successfully held a hybrid freeman's meeting in March, in which people voted both in person and virtually. The city will respond to the governor's recommendation and be flexible, but the public will have an opportunity to vote on the budget this year.

Last year, due to restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19, the City Council had the final vote to approve the budget.

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 can be found at bit.ly/gcproposedbudget.

k.drelich@theday.com

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