Passero proposes $102 million budget for New London
New London ― Standing behind a black podium, Mayor Michael Passero gave his annual budget address Friday night at City Hall and proposed a $102 million budget for 2023-34.
The budget, if approved as is, would lower the tax rate to 37.15 mills, a .07-mill decrease from the current rate.
Before presenting the budget, Passero made an enthusiastic speech about the conditions of the city and its finances. He said this past year has been marked by significant progress toward financial stability as well as excitement about the prospects for future prosperity.
He mentioned a range of ongoing construction from the three building development on Bank Street called The Riverbank to the mixed-income apartments at Bayonet Street.
“With the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that is committed to the city as of today, I can confidently say, there is no stopping us now. It's happening,” he said. “The naysayers be damned. Prepare to have egg on your face.”
Passero said the funding requests for every department of the city had to be significantly cut to create a proposed budget that does not raise taxes for residents and businesses.
“This budget will keep the momentum going in this city,” he said. “It will meet our needs, though it can’t fund all our wants.”
The proposed budget contains $56.2 million in city government spending, or 42.5% of the budget, which is a $2.7 million increase from the current budget. The fire department is receiving the largest increase among city departments with a $1.8 million increase, for a total of $11.8 million.
David McBride, the city’s finance director, said the large increase is mainly attributable to raised pension costs required by the state’s public pension plan as well as an increase from union contract negotiations last year.
Funding for education makes up 45% of the proposed budget. The Board of Education requested a $47.9 million budget with a $2.7 million, or 6%, increase from the current budget. McBride said the requested funds would have meant a 12% increase in taxpayer support because state education aid is not increasing.
Passero has instead proposed a school budget of $45.9 million, an increase of $727,650 or 1.6% from the current budget. Education spending is funded jointly with state and taxpayer money and because of flat funding from the state, the increase to taxpayers under Passero’s plan is 5%, McBride said.
McBride said taxes will make up 59% of all revenue to fund the budget.
The City Council will have a series of meetings in the coming weeks to review and eventually approve the budget.
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