Monday, April 13, 2015

Letter to the Editor: Ansonia alderman supports 2015-2016 budget

Dear Editor:

On Tuesday the Ansonia Board of Aldermen will be holding a vote on the 2015-2016 budget. It’s a proposal I proudly support as Chairman of the Finance Sub-committee and one that fulfills Mayor Dave Cassetti’s election promise of delivering tax relief to residents and business owners.

I want to take this opportunity to share some of the details with Ansonia’ residents.

If the budget is approved, taxpayers will see a one-mill tax cut, the second tax reduction in two years. What does a one-mill tax reduction mean for Ansonia residents? It represents a 3% decrease in property taxes.  In plain language, a house assessed at $200,000 would see property taxes would decrease by about $210.

Yet this budget is more than a one-trick-pony.  Beyond the tax relief, it provides for capital improvements such as the lease of a street sweeper for public works and a replacement vehicle for the fire department, along with upgrades to the animal shelter and planning costs related to a new safety facility.

The proposal also makes contributions to the City’s underfunded pension plan.  In fact, this marks the first year in over a decade that the budget will address the chronically ignored fund.

This is all a result of responsible and strategic fiscal planning on the part of Mayor Cassetti and his finance team.  Consultation with Ansonia’s outside auditing firm has revealed that the City’s general fund is being maintained at an unacceptably high level.  The proposed budget therefore leverages the overfunded reserves to provide tax relief and move Ansonia forward.

Specifically, our auditors hold that a city’s reserves should be set at about 8% to 10% of the overall budget.  However, the 2013-2014 budget, as set by the prior administration, resulted in general reserve that represents 19% of the overall budget!  Moreover, the reserves have been set at an average of 16% of the overall budget over the past 6 years.

The budget proposal also includes (for the first time) a forward-looking capital improvement plan and forecast of next year’s surplus.  In other words, it’s a well-researched plan built on solid ground.

Lorie Vaccaro
Alderman, Second Ward
Chair, Finance Sub-committee

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