When the Board of Finance failed to reach a decisive vote on the 2012-13 mill rate Wednesday night, it left Southington in a position that the town had never been in before.
Mark Sciota said Wednesday that the town is now in a position where the mill rate must be passed by the end of the month or tax bills could be delayed for the first time in history – something he said the town is hoping to avoid.
“There isn’t an option here. A mill rate has to be set,” Sciota said Thursday. “There are two options and my recommendation, which I made to the board by phone, is to hold a special meeting as soon as John Leary returns and no later than May 29.”
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The Board of Finance to set the mill rate at 27.48 mills for the upcoming year, a figure that coincides with the final budget . The board needed four votes to pass the measure, however, and Chairman John Leary was unable to attend due to a business trip that left him overseas.
Feld and Casale said they did not support the mill rate proposed because they did not support the budget that was passed and believed there should have been further cuts.
There had been no votes from previous Board of Finance members in the past, usually due to disagreements on the final budget passed, but never before had those votes left the community in a position where it would not meet the charter’s demand that a rate be passed by May 21.
The options now are limited, Sciota said. The board must meet for a special meeting before or on May 29 and take a second vote to pass the budget. If they are unable to agree to a mill rate before that time, he said the matter should be forwarded to the Town Council, which also meets on May 29, for a second vote.
“We need to pass this by the end of the month in order to get the tax bills out on time,” Sciota said. “The bills will go out either way, but if a mill rate isn’t passed in time then there will be no choice but to send them out late.”
Although the 27.48 mill figure is based on the zero-base budget passed, the mill rate could be altered at the discretion of the Board of Finance. Revenues are locked in, Finance Board Vice-Chairman Joseph Labieniec said.
In order to lower the rate, however, the town would likely need to dip into the rainy day fund in order to balance the budget that was passed. The budget cannot be changed at this time.
“It’s disappointing because obviously the charter calls for the mill rate to be passed by the 21st and in this circumstance, it will not be done by that time,” Sciota said. “We have to do something and we need this done as quickly as possible. If it is done by the 29th, it will give be enough to get bills out on time.”
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