The Groton Town Council approved a tentative tax rate increase of 6.4 percent Monday, but Finance Director Sal Pandolfo said 70 percent of Groton homeowners will not see a dollar increase in taxes because of the recent revaluation.
Councilors approved a proposed budget of $121,143,428 for the coming fiscal year – a 2.2 percent increase over the current year’s spending.
If adopted as proposed, the budget would result in a 1.21 mill increase in the tax rate, from 18.89 mills to 20.10 mills, or an increase of 6.4 percent. So, for every $100,000 of assessed value, $2,010 in local property taxes would be owed, a $121 increase over 2012.
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Councilor Deborah Peruzzotti cast the sole vote against the tax rate increase.
“I’m having a very hard time with that number in the end,” she said.
But Mayor Heather Bond Somers said the council deliberated many hours and days over the budget and had to support spending on areas like roads.
Town Councilor James Streeter said he decided he would rather spend money to repair now than millions to rebuild later.
Most of the additional spending covered capital improvements; about half were in the schools. The council also added two projects for roads in Groton City and Groton Long Point.
The budgets for the subdivisions went up $366,000, mostly for public works, Town Manager Mark Oefinger said.
Councilor Dean Antipas, who reviewed the budget as a councilor for the first time this year, said it's harder to cut the budget than it looks.
“And I still wonder, in the back of my mind, if there isn’t another approach,” he said.
Antipas said rather than looking at the existing budget line by line and deciding what should stay, perhaps the council could start from scratch thinking about what services the town wants to provide, and then build a budget to provide them.
Residential Values Down
After the most recent revaluation in Groton, commercial real estate values fell 10.5 percent and residential values dropped 6.9 percent since the 2010 grand list, according to a recent memo by Pandolfo.
The list showed some increases in values: industrial real estate went up 3.3 percent; personal property climbed 16.8 percent and motor vehicle values increased 11.3 percent.
The assessor signed the 2011 grand list on Jan. 31.