The Bristol Blog features news and information about Bristol, Connecticut.
April 29, 2010
Budget passes finance board on 5-4 vote
In a rare 5-4 vote that opens the door for the City Council to decide how high property taxes should go, the Board of Finance backed a $171.5 million municipal spending plan Thursday that would hike the mill rate 5.2 percent.
The budget calls for a spending increase of less than ⅓ of 1 percent, Mayor Art Ward said, and leaves many departments “pretty close to bone dry” for the coming fiscal year.
Declining state aid, shrinking income from interest and fees and other revenue hits caused by the recession created a gap in the money the city typically receives, officials said, leaving them with little option except to sock taxpayers for more.
“I know it isn’t going to be easy for anyone,” said Ward, who backed the budget.
But four members of the finance panel refused to go along — Janet Moylan, Mark Peterson, Cheryl Thibeault and Bob Casar.
That means that when a joint session of city councilors and finance board members gives final approval to the budget May 17, councilors could, at least in theory, side with the budget critics and lower the tax rate.
The system generally gives the nine-person finance board more clout in the decision, but when it’s divided so closely, councilors have the ability to tip the balance one way or another.
Two Republicans on the council, Ken Cockayne and David Mills, have already said they won’t go along with so big a tax hike. One Democrat, Cliff Block, said he would vote for it.
Assuming nobody flips, that leaves both sides with six votes. The other three councilors, Democrats Kevin McCauley, Kevin Fuller and Kate Matthews, could tip the balance either way. Fuller and Matthews are both newcomers. CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY
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