First Selectman Mike Tetreau released his Fiscal Year 2017 budget recommendation today. This recommendation includes the proposed town-side budget, recommended BOE adjusted budget request, and the estimated tax impact on property owners.
In putting together this budget, First Selectman Tetreau stated, “I am committed to continuing managing the Town as efficiently as possible while being cognizant of those who are struggling financially. I want to thank the Town’s department directors and managers and the Superintendent and his team for working so well with my budget team and continuing to demonstrate professional expertise in maintaining a high level of services and programs in a very cost effective manner. This commitment to an affordable and well-managed government helps make Fairfield a desirable place to live.”
Highlights of the First Selectman’s recommended town-side budget include:
- For the first time in over 20 years, the town-side budget is proposed to be less than the prior year. The First Selectman is proposing a town-side budget that is just under $130 million. Last year's town-side budget set a record for the lowest increase in 20 years. This year, the Town has beaten that record with a .22% decrease.
- This budget does not reduce or defer any services.
- The drivers for this reduction are lower healthcare costs due to the move to a new healthcare plan for Town employees, lower annual debt service, lower workers compensation expense, lower pension costs and lower fees and professional services.
- This budget includes the annually recommended pension contribution, the annually recommended OPEB contribution, higher paving costs, higher sidewalk maintenance, more Public Works equipment, increased snow clearing expense, increased Senior Center support, increased Senior and Disabled Tax Relief, a supplemental contribution to surplus to support our AAA rating, and continued funding for school security personnel.
First Selectman Tetreau said, "First, I want to thank the Superintendent and his team for their work in putting together a very cost effective proposal for this year. This budget includes a July 1st move to a State Healthcare plan, providing a significant reduction in healthcare costs. On January 28th, the Board of Education (BOE) voted to recommend the Superintendent’s proposal - a $165.4 million budget, a 2.59% increase over last year.
I am recommending a slightly smaller education budget which results in a $164.7 million budget, a 2.14% increase over last year. This is an administrative adjustment and has no impact on students, teachers or curriculum. The BOE’s move to a premium based health insurance plan eliminates the need to maintain substantial reserves for future claims. The BOE currently has a substantial reserve in the Internal Service Fund/Health Insurance account. This amount will not be fully needed due to the July 1st conversion. Therefore, I am recommending an adjustment in the BOE’s proposed budget of $730,000."
The combined impact of both the town-side and education budgets leads to a proposed net increase of 1.09%. This is the second lowest budget increase in the past 20 years.
In a normal year, a budget increase of just over 1% would be the primary factor impacting the mill rate. However, in this revaluation year, it is the change in assessment which has the largest impact on the mill rate. The projected mill rate for this budget is 25.57. With this most recent revaluation, close to 40% of property owners’ assessments decreased by 3% or more. Therefore, the best way to estimate a real estate tax bill would be to multiply the newly assessed value of the property by the projected mill rate.
First Selectman Tetreau further stated, “Working together, we can keep Fairfield a fiscally strong and valued home for our residents. As we continually work to strengthen our financial foundation, we strive to maintain a high level of service for all residents. Ongoing work continues with our labor unions and employees to manage our long-term liabilities. I have made it a priority to focus on growing our Grand List and attracting vital business and commercial development to Fairfield.
I know Town boards will carefully review these budget recommendations that have been thoroughly vetted. I thank all our residents for all they contribute to this great Town that we are so fortunate to live in.”
Please click here to see the 2016-2017 Proposed Budget. Information on this year’s budget process can be found at www.fairfieldct.org/budget. The public is encouraged to attend the budget hearings starting in March or view them on FairTV at http://www.fairfieldct.org/FairTV, the Town’s government channel that tapes Town meetings.
The photo shows CFO Robert Mayer and First Selectman Mike Tetreau.