NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk residents could face a 3.9 percent increase in their property taxes next year under a proposed city spending plan of $311.3 million.
The proposal, which is recommended by Finance Director Tom Hamilton, represents a nearly 4.9 percent increase over the city’s current spending plan. For the average family paying $6,338 in property taxes, the increase will add another $250 to their bill.
Hamilton presented the recommended budget to the Board of Estimate & Taxation Monday, the first of several meetings city officials will hold over the next several weeks before the plan is finalized, so the amounts are subject to change.
The city’s current spending plan is $296.8 million, so the increase in the proposed plan is a jump of more than $14 million. Among the drivers for the proposed spending increase is a 34 percent hike in the city’s contractual pension contribution, an increase of $2.5 million, according to Hamilton.
Additionally, city employee health care costs are rising 18 percent, or $1.7 million next year, which is a contractual item, officials said.
“Nobody wants to raise taxes, but some of the factors driving this increase are beyond our control,” said Mayor Richard Moccia, adding that there may be “some tweaking” to the recommended budget. “At the end of the day, I really don’t believe the people of the city want to lose some of the services they currently receive.”
Fred Wilms, chair of Estimate & Taxation, agreed.
“I don’t believe the residents want a meat ax taken to the budget," he said. "We’ve avoided taking some of those extreme steps in the past.”
Included in the spending plan is a recommendation for about $164 million for the Norwalk school system, which represents about 53 percent of the city’s overall budget. Also, the city is looking to add three new police officers to the force, which could help with rotations in placing more officers in or around the city’s schools for added security, according to Moccia.
While property taxes pay the bulk of the spending plan, the city’s Grand List is projected to be roughly flat next year with an increase in value of only about 0.2 percent. With such a small gain, residents cannot rely on a large Grand List increase to help offset the tax increase, officials said.