“I am here tonight to present my Mayor’s budget to all of you,” is how the live feed to New Britain residents started on April 14th, 2021. “I’m going to be putting forth a budget this evening that proposes to lower the tax rate in the City of New Britain by one mill.”
When Mayor Erin Stewart first took office, she was staring at a $30 million operating deficit. “That was really scary,” Stewart said while expounding that she came in as a new mayor and looked at that type of debt that we were facing.“ From trying to figure out okay how do we fix it to here, [where] we are now, [eight] years later… I can sit here and say that I’m finally at a point where we can lower taxes for our residents, and honestly, it couldn’t come at a more important time and for many of us who are in desperate need of some assistance no matter how small at it may be.”
The one mil reduction will amount to a 2% tax cut on personal property, real estate, and motor vehicles. That means property taxes will go down from 50.50 to 49.50 mills, and the rate on vehicles will go down from 45 to 44 mills. That amounts to around $350 a year in savings for the average family of four.
However, what exactly led to the decrease in the mill rate? Where did the extra revenue come from? The answer is growth, new anticipated major development, and added state dollars.
Over 1,400 new businesses were created under the public administration of Erin E. Stewart. Mayor Stewart has been notably one of New Britain’s most entrepreneurial mayors, often saying that “businesses invest in cities that invest in themselves.” That has proven to be a sound political theory that has increased our city’s Grand List substantially; the Grand List has grown for eight consecutive years. Essentially, a grandlist is the basis for the amount of all taxable property within New Britain. Also adding to our new revenues is the expected sale of City property for major private developments off of Hartford Rd. and Osgood Avenue. Additionally, as a direct result of aggressive lobbying by the Mayor, the City is expected to receive an additional $3.8 million in PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) monies owed to the City.
Mayor Stewart’s proposed budget also makes an increased investment into New Britain Schools. Included in her budget is an additional $500k to place into the Education Savings Account she created as another source of revenue for the Board of Education to utilize towards student needs. This investment into our City’s education system comes at no additional cost to taxpayers. The Mayor also devotes $1 million in this budget to Anti-blight. This money will be used for projects such as the demolition of Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, which is a building that is crumbling and has become a hazard to the neighborhood of Kelsey and East Street. It’s clear that the Mayor takes a holistic approach in her budget to meet the needs of the City in this time period and keeps the taxpayer in mind.