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Norwalk Budget Proposal Calls For 2.9% Spending Increase

The Common Council Finance Committee will take public comment on Norwalk's proposed budget at a meeting in City Hall Thursday night.
The Common Council Finance Committee will take public comment on Norwalk's proposed budget at a meeting in City Hall Thursday night. Photo Credit: File

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s Common Council will start work this week on $318.5 million in proposed spending for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Finance Director Thomas Hamilton presented his proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year last week. The budget calls for more than $9 million in new spending for the city next year, an increase of about 2.9 percent over the current budget.

Hamilton’s proposal includes fully funding Superintendent Manuel Rivera’s education budget request , with the exception of a pension contribution Hamilton deemed unnecessary. That would give an increase of about 2.9 percent, or $4.66 million, to the Board of Education for the next school year.

Another change proposed for next year is for a new officer at the Norwalk Police Department. The new position would be assigned as School Resource Officer at one of the city’s middle schools, giving each middle school its own SRO. The police department is also slated to get 10 new patrol cars in Hamilton’s budget.

Other new programs would include a fire cadet system and two new lieutenants for the Norwalk Fire Department. Hamilton’s proposal also includes an allocation to restore Sunday hours to the Norwalk Public Libraries.

Norwalk’s spending will also go up next year because of contractually negotiated wage hikes for many city employees’ unions, including the Fire Department, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and the libraries. The city also saw a $1.85 million rise in its pension fund contributions, but will have to pay about $950,000 less for employee benefits because of better-than-expected experience this year, according to Hamilton’s budget presentation.

If the budget is unchanged, Norwalk’s mill rate would increase by 13.41 percent in the First, Second and Third Taxing Districts, 13.44 percent in the Fourth Taxing District,  12.88 percent in the Fifth Taxing District, 11.17 percent in the Sixth Taxing District and a 3.2 percent increase in motor vehicle taxes.

However, those numbers do not reflect the exact rise in property taxes next year, because of the city’s property revaluation last year. The city’s property lost an average of 7.7 percent of its value in the revaluation, and mill rates have gone up to compensate.

The change in tax bills will vary from home to home, depending on the change in value in the revaluation. Hamilton estimates that the tax bill for a median-value home in the Fourth Taxing District will go up about 1.2 percent, for example.

The Common Council’s Finance Committee will hear public comment on the proposed budget Thursday evening. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in the council’s chambers in City Hall.

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