April 13—WILLIMANTIC — Board members approved Willimantic’s proposed 2022-23 tax district budget, which involves lower taxes, following a quiet public hearing Tuesday night.
The budget is $12,174,672, an increase of $567,388 or 4.9% over the current budget.
It was approved by a vote of 4-0.
Tax district members made no changes to the budget proposed by Windham City Manager Jim Rivers.
Although there is a budget increase, the proposed mill rate has decreased due to several revenue increases.
“It’s been a very good year for taxpayers,” Rivers said. “We’ve had some tough years here.”
There has been a 4% increase in the 2021 big roster as well as an increase in state funding, specifically payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) funds, as well as an increase in department revenue .
Increase in PILOT funds
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over $1 million of the current budget.
Rivers said when he first came to town there were a few years of big tax increases and incomes were stagnant or reduced, a “very painful” situation.
“Our work is paying off in a number of areas and we’re seeing it,” he said.
The proposed Willimantic mill rate is 11.19, a reduction of 1.69 mills from the current mill rate. Combined with the municipal rate, which is 35.78, Willimantic ratepayers will pay a total of 46.97 mills under the proposed budget, a reduction of 3.12 mills from the current budget.
For a home valued at $86,000, the median assessment in Willimantic, Willimantic ratepayers would pay $268 less in taxes.
The budget includes $100,000 to install cameras throughout Willimantic, a project prompted by the recent use of private security cameras to solve a hit-and-run accident and track down graffiti writers in Willimantic.
“It’s an effective tool in fighting crime,” Willimantic Police Chief Paul Hussey said of the cameras.
Hussey said Norwich Police solved a murder case using their camera system.
He said the cameras will be installed in the most criminal areas, as well as at the entrances and exits of Willimantic.
Council member Nectalis Martinez said he supported buying the camera, noting he was in favor of sacrificing “a bit of privacy” for security.
“Willimantic has too many outings for people who really want to get away from it all,” he said.
However, board member Charles Krich was not in favor of the security camera system.
“I don’t like being in places where I’m photographed against my will and I’m willing to give it up to maintain my privacy,” he said.
Krich’s motion to remove the $100,000 for this project failed due to missing a second.
In the end, he supported the budget, noting that $100,000 is a small part of the budget.
The budget also includes the addition of a social worker, who would work for the police department.
The budget also provides for an increase in the tax district’s contribution for municipal services, from $85,000 to $200,000.
These services include tax collection, finance department services, and administrative expenses. Only one person, Larry Kellogg, commented during the hearing, which was held virtually.
Kellogg said he feels board members should ask more questions about the budget.
He said he felt the hearing should have been mentioned on the electronic sign in Jillson Square and was not.
” Why is that?” asked Kellogg.
Rivers said he asked for the hearing to be mentioned on the sign, but the person manning the sign was out of work and it wasn’t done.
The budget will be presented to taxpayers during an annual meeting on May 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Taxpayers will vote on the budget, along with the general government and school budgets, in a referendum on May 10.
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