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Norwalk Tax Hike Now Set at 2.8%

NORWALK, Conn. – The preliminary cap to Norwalk's budget was set early Wednesday, a figure that represents a 2.8 percent increase in the mill rate for Norwalk property owners.

Hours of discussion preceded the 12:20 a.m. vote at a marathon Common Council meeting. During the vote, Republican freshman Michelle Maggio made her only comment of the night: "I forgot what we were voting on."

She quickly made it clear that her vote was yes, making her one of 12 members to vote for the figures that Democrat Bruce Kimmel called "a true compromise."

Voting against the compromise were Democrats Carvin Hilliard and David Watts along with Republican Nick Kydes.

The city's finance department initially recommended a figure that represented a 3.8 percent mill rate increase, as directed by Mayor Richard Moccia. That budget cap set at Tuesday night's meeting was $3 million less than that recommendation, a cap of $280,475,665, with total expenditures of $296,872,012 less $16,396,347 in intergovernmental grants.

Several members said the ball would go back to the Board of Estimate and Taxation. Although the council decides a cap, the BET goes through line by line and decides where the money will go. The council will make a final vote on the cap in April.

If the 2.8 percent increase in the mill rate holds, it will result in a median tax increase for a fourth district property owner would be $170.67.

The public speaking portion of the meeting, held in Concert Hall, lasted for more than an hour. Members of the Department of Public Works spoke against the proposed privatization of garbage services, and educators and parents pleaded for funds for the Board of Education. A few expressed support for the Norwalk Museum.

Democrat Matt Miklave later pointed out that the museum and the privatization issues represented a small percentage of the budget.

Democrat Carvin Hilliard, president of the council and chairman of the finance committee, had submitted a resolution for a 5 percent increase in the budget. That failed 13-2: Only he and Watts voted for it.

Kydes put a 2 percent hike up for a vote. He was the only person who voted for it.

Democrat Warren Pena made the motion for a 2.8 percent increase. He said, "We have to be sensitive to the taxpayer's burden, and this is a tough choice up here."

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