The city’s proposed $172 million budget will likely include $400,000 in extra conveyance tax revenue that may never arrive.
In the partisan bickering that that slowed legislation to a crawl in Hartford this week, the General Assembly apparently dropped plans to extend the special tax that’s helped 18 so-called “distressed communities” raise additional revenue every time a piece of property changes hands.
For Bristol, that means a loss of at least $400,000 in the next fiscal year – money that officials were counting on to assist in balancing the books during a particularly tough budget year.
City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said he will recommend to decision-makers on the Board of Finance and City Council to go ahead and leave the conveyance tax money in the spending plan despite the failure to extend the tax past June 30.
He said that he’s heard there is likely to be a special session of the legislature in June that will push through the measure in time to keep the cash flowing.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, which is fighting to keep the tax in place, said the extension was “caught up in budget politics” because Democrats didn’t want to bring it to the floor unless Republicans agreed not to try to amend it.
Gov. Jodi Rell and the Democratic leadership of the General Assembly agreed last week to a “do-nothing” budget for the state that doesn’t change the expenditures approved in 2007 for the following year’s state spending.
State Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democratic who is also a city councilor, said he doesn’t know whether the conveyance tax will come up for a vote today, the final day of the session.
The city is aiming to cut the municipal budget approved by the finance board enough to cut the mill rate hike by a third, which would require lopping $1 million extra.
The Board of Education is absorbing $200,000 of that extra cut, but it’s not yet clear how the city will find the rest of the money.
A joint session of the council and finance panel is slated for 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 15 to weigh budget options.
If the city opts not to risk leaving the extra conveyance tax money in its budget, officials would have to find another $400,000 in spending cuts to make up the difference.
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