Democrats break rank, vote in favor of Stewart’s no tax increase budget

Mayor Stewart’s No Tax Increase Budget is Overwhelmingly Adopted by the Common Council

‘Residents will enjoy a great quality of life; there are no cuts to services and teachers will have more money to educate our children.’

NEW BRITAIN—Mayor Erin Stewart released the following statement following the overwhelming passage by the Common Council on Wednesday evening of a no tax increase budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year:

“This budget is the result of many hours of hard work and scrutiny,” said Mayor Stewart. “As costs and mandates continue to climb, we have successfully navigated a path towards ensuring that the programs, services, and quality of life that our residents and business owners have come to expect will remain intact, all without raising taxes.”

The budget was approved in a majority vote by the Common Council; voting in favor were six Republicans and the four Democratic majority party leaders. Five Democrats voted against the budget and offered no alternatives.

The $242.51 million budget provides an additional $3.1 million to the Board of Education ($7.1 million total through state grants) and keeps the City’s $18 million Rainy Day fund untouched. The $242,510,456 budget represents an increase of 2 percent over the current year’s $237,729,089 budget.

Minority Leader Robert Smedley commented, “This is a well-thought out budget and one that I am proud to have supported. Thanks to Mayor Stewart’s leadership and foresight, our City will be better off in the future. It is no easy task to continually invest in our community, while at the same time holding the tax rate level.”

In March, the Board of Finance and Taxation recommended to the Mayor an increase in spending of 5.63 percent, or a $251.11 million budget, which would have required a real estate and personal property mill rate increase from 50.50 mills to 60.91 mills. Over several months, Mayor Stewart and her finance team went through 870 line items and made reductions from the Board of Finance and Taxation plan amounting to $8.5 million. The changes included additional cuts to spending and added sources of revenue.

The budget eliminates vacant five positions, including an assistant fire chief, two telecommunicators, an equipment operator, and a parks foreperson. Under the budget proposal, no new positions have been created and it funds the City’s obligations to its pension and self-insurance funds.