This budget cycle hasn’t been as noisy as last year when Black Rockers in particular voiced strong opposition to Mayor Bill Finch’s proposed spending plan at a public hearing hosted by the City Council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee. If you want to squawk about the budget that calls for about a $120 increase on the average homeowner, a public hearing will take place Tuesday 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers. The budget year starts July 1.
Last week the Connecticut legislature, with the backing of Governor Dan Malloy, rescued the mayor from a budget inferno by delaying state-mandated revaluation of city property for two years.
In a joint news release, the two state senators representing Bridgeport, Andres Ayala and Anthony Musto, touted the move as a buying time initiative in the hope some of the city’s economic development initiatives will produce new commercial revenues in two years. Both state senators could face August primaries.
“This bill will allow for a delay in revaluation while Bridgeport’s substantial commercial developments to continue evolving and open, promoting a more equitable financial structure in our city,” said Senator Ayala. “This will allow the market to continue to turn up and property values to continue their rise, creating a bright economic future for Bridgeport residents.”
“We are allowing municipalities, should they so choose, to develop their own structure that is fair and equitable for city residents and the new commercial developments,” said Senator Musto. “This bill puts the responsibility and power back where it belongs, on the municipalities.”
The bill passed by the legislature applies to a number of cities and towns in the state, but was driven by Bridgeport after city bean counters pondered a tax rate increase of possibly 20 mils from the city’s current 41.85 mils, jacking property, auto and business taxes. Talk about a phew! moment for the mayor.
Connecticut law requires all real estate to be revalued for assessment purposes every five years to bring about uniformity in property values and ensuring everyone pays their fair share, or so it goes. Your tax bill is a function of your property assessment based on 70 percent of value. In the economic downturn property values have collapsed so as a general rule the mil rate approved by the City Council will spike to make up for the reduced assessments in order to fund the budget proposed by the mayor.
The mayor wants to avoid this spike until presumably some of the economic development proposals such as the Steel Point redevelopment area materialize and have an actual effect on taxes. Yes, it’s a leap of faith. The mayor’s buying time with his reelection campaign on the horizon next year.