There are some challenges ahead if the Board of Finance and Town Council want to keep taxes relatively low for Southington taxpayers – especially given an 8.57 percent overall decrease in the grand list, which will officially be released Wednesday.
Brian Lastra told members of the Town Council Monday that the 2011 revaluation in part led to a 10.6 percent decline in total real estate on this year’s grand list. Motor vehicle property increased at 7-percent and personal property accounted for a 6.09 percent increase, helping off-set the real estate drop.
“There could be some minor differences between now and when the grand list is signed (on Wednesday), but the bottom line is it won’t have a large effect on the numbers here,” Lastra said Monday.
John Barry said the numbers reflect the need to look for areas where the budgets, currently presented with requests for a 2 percent increase in general government and 3.82 percent for the Board of Education, could be reduced to help prevent large increases to the taxpayer.
“In terms of what this means for the average taxpayer; to just maintain level services then the mill rate has to go up,” Barry said.
The town’s , an increase of 1.08 percent (or $26 per $100,000 home). In order to maintain current services – a zero budget increase – the mill rate would need to be raised to 26.55. At this time, and with the 8-9 percent decreases for most real estate properties, it is difficult to determine what that would mean for the average taxpayer at this time.
The Board of Finance, which began their budget review process on Thursday, will receive the official data just before their second budget workshop on Wednesday night. A public hearing will also be held on March 5 at before the board proposes and votes on a budget to send to the Town Council.
Lastra also apologized on Monday for the delay in the budget, saying that due to extreme weather circumstances which affected revaluation efforts in August and October and an increase in services rendered in 2011, Vision Government Services failed to meet deadlines established to allow for the grand list to be released on time.
The town filed for a 30-day extension on Jan. 31, and Lastra said the new information has now been entered into the system.
Councilwoman Dawn Miceli said she would like to consider “penalties” in any future revaluation contracts to avoid problems that could delay the grand list being released, especially given some of the challenges it will now present.
Although the numbers are “disappointing,” Council Chairman Edward Pocock III said the major work has been completed and future grand lists, including in revaluation years, should be presented on schedule and without the need for an extension.
“(The town) went from a DOS-based system to a current technology system. The revaluation is an equalizing of the books,” Pocock said. “We don’t ask for this, but what it does is reset the books to what current values are and it’s a reality we need to deal with.”