Stamford Mayor David Martin has proposed a $630 million budget that includes a 4.1% tax increase – largely due to school funding, retiree benefits and the city’s continued growth.
Residents received a 3.2% tax hike last year, following cuts made by Stamford’s Board of Representatives and Board of Finance that, if not made, would have resulted in a 4.4% increase.
In his proposal to the boards, Martin said that Stamford’s operational costs, which make up 36.7% of the budget, include employee compensation, active employee benefits, equipment maintenance, and contingencies, while committed fiscal obligations (14.5%) include retirement benefits, debt service, and the like. Support for education makes up 48.8% of the budget.
“We are committed to efficiently allocating taxpayer dollars to services and projects our residents expect,” he wrote. “But we are also committed to reducing past unfunded long-term liabilities, overcoming deferred maintenance in its many forms, and adjusting to additional expenses required of the city from the state of Connecticut.
“There are several unusual costs or unusually high increases in this year’s budget,” the mayor continued, citing “unfunded retirement costs, school facility restoration related to mold prevention, Health/COVID-19 emergency preparation, a higher than average Board of Education budget, Board of Representatives legal expenses, and facility operating costs for recreation and other services.”
Without those expenses, the proposed mill rate increase would only be 2.14%, Martin wrote. (A mill is equal to $1 of tax for each $1,000 of assessment.) “However, these atypical cost drivers drive the tentative proposed average mill rate increase to 4.14%. Even with these expenses, an examination of the city’s budget will show that Stamford’s operational costs per capita are less than comparably sized Connecticut cities, and considerably less than our adjacent towns.”
The activity in real estate transactions and continued growth of Stamford’s grand list –the aggregate valuation of taxable property within a municipality – has helped fund city projects, the mayor noted. The grand list increased by 1.5% compared with the adjusted grand list from last year.
“Without this 1.5% increase, the city would not have $8.5 million in revenue,” Martin noted. “Without this growth in the grand list, the overall city mill rate would need to increase another 1.5% points, resulting in a 5.64% increase in the overall mill rate.”