Groton Town Manager Mark Oefinger this week released a proposed $121.6 million budget for the coming fiscal year, or an increase of .6 percent over current spending, which would require a 5.4 percent increase in the tax rate.
The mill rate would rise from 20.22 mills to 21.31 mills, or $109 for every $100,000 of assessed value. Most of the increase – three quarters – is due to declining revenues in Groton and the use of the town's fund balance.
Revenues are expected to fall 4 percent from the current fiscal year, according to a summary of the proposal. The budget would also use about $1 million of the available fund balance to cover spending.
“There is not a direct correlation anymore between how much a budget is going up and what the taxes are doing,” Oefinger said Thursday. “The reality is, in order to support an increase of .6 percent, the taxes are going to go up 5 percent because of eroding revenues.”
Groton’s grand list is down 1.3 percent, due primarily to a decline in motor vehicles values and personal property at Pfizer.
The proposed budget includes the following changes in spending:
- $630,049 or 1.9 percent more for town operations;
- $1,017,215 or 1.4 percent more for education;
- $1,205,753 or 14.6 percent less for capital spending and debt service, driven mainly by the decision to borrow to pave roads;
- $64,037, or 3.1 percent more for outside agencies; and
- $15,455 or 2.9 percent more for the subdivisions.
In town departments, a significant portion of the increase comes from rising costs in three areas: legal services, public safety and public works. The budget does not add any full-time positions, so the number of town employees would remain at 268.
The budget proposal by the Board of Education is $73.66 million and cannot be changed by the town manager. Other spending related to education is covered by outside agencies and includes school health services, crossing guards, the high school resource officer and debt for school-related projects.
The City of Groton is seeking less money this year and Groton Long Point is seeking more. The city has asked for $4.39 million for police and highways, a decrease of $2.4 percent. Groton Long Point has asked for $604,690 for police and roads, an increase of 74.5 percent.