Waterbury mayor pledges no new tax hikes in his proposed budget for next year

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Monday was a big day in the Brass City. It gave Waterbury residents a virtual opportunity to examine and give their input on Mayor Neil O’Leary’s proposed budget for next year. News 8 crunching the numbers before the public hearing.

The entire proposal is just over $425 million. It’s $3.7 million more than last year’s budget — that’s a hike of less than 1 percent.

Included in the plan — no new taxes.

The proposed personal property mill rate remains the same at 60.21. The motor vehicle mill rate remains unchanged, as well, at 45.

“That’s the 6th year in a row we’re not calling for tax increases and we’re proud of that,” the mayor said.

Still, Republican members of the Board of Aldermen say the mill rate numbers are way too high.

“We’re in second place, we’re right behind Hartford,” said Republican Alderman, Vernon Matthews, Jr. “If we’re trying to revitalize Waterbury and bring businesses here and eventually get people to move here, the mill rate needs to go down.”

But, the mayor has stated during the pandemic, Waterbury has seen a surge in people from New York moving here.

“People may move from New York because the houses are cheaper here but then they realize the taxes are more than what they’re paying,” Alderman Matthews said.

Budget requests from city departments came in at $429 million. That exceeded projected revenues of $421 million.

Education remained the same because the mayor says that division also got an influx of cash from the state. The two departments with the biggest requests and allocations of city cash are Public Safety ($1.432 million) and the Department of Public Works ($1.062 million).

The mayor told News 8 that’s because Public Works needs the money for water main repairs and other infrastructure improvements.

Alderman Matthews agrees with that, telling News 8 one of the top complaints among his constituents is the need for roads and sidewalks to be repaired.

“This person right here (pointing to a house off in the distance) has been begging for a new sidewalk for years now,” Alderman Matthews said. He also believes money is being allocated for public safety to pay for new vehicles for the police and fire department. Firefighters are now being trained on a new fire truck that just arrived a few weeks ago.

Mayor O’Leary tells News 8 his overall message to the Waterbury taxpayer is one of fiscal responsibility. He also made a prediction about the mill rate a year from now.

“I’m thinking we’re going to see a big increase in our Grand List growth and we’ll be able to bring the mill rate down,” he said.

The Board of Aldermen will vote on the budget plan in June.

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