The Board of Finance brought the 2013-14 budget season to a close Wednesday night, adopting a new tax rate of 23.93 mills, a 2.38 percent increase over the current 23.37-mill tax rate, for the fiscal year starting July 1.
The new tax rate was approved unanimously, as board members factored into consideration senior tax relief, state aid to the town and reimbursements for storm damage from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Taxes raised with the new mill rate will finance a $278.4 million municipal budget adopted Monday by the Representative Town Meeting.
According to figures provided by the Finance Department, with a 23.93-mill tax rate, the impact on the owner of the "average" Fairfield home -- with an assessed value of $455,000 (and appraised at $650,000) -- is an annual increase of $255. The tax bill on that home would be $10,888, up from $10,633.
A home assessed at $350,000 would have a tax bill rise $196, from $8,180 to $8,376. At the higher end, the tax bill on a home appraised at $1.25 million (assessed at $875,000) would increase $490, from $20,449 to $20,939.
In setting the mill rate, officials also assumed a tax-collection rate of between 98.75 to 98.8 percent.
Finance Chairman Thomas Flynn said that tax-collection rate assumption is on the conservative side, based on data from the last three years. He said the town's collection rate for the current fiscal year is already ahead of where it was this time last year.
The town also chose to use conservative estimates of state aid to the town over the coming fiscal year, since the governor's budget has not yet been approved. "We're working off the latest data from the (General Assembly's) Appropriations Committee," First Selectman Michael Tetreau said. "We're getting updates about every week." He said they are not expecting the state budget to be finalized until early June.
Also taken into consideration in setting the new tax rate is the $4.55 million estimated in tax relief for the town's senior citizens. There are currently 1,555 participants in the tax-relief program, which recently was expanded by the RTM. The average annual credit received by seniors is $2,689, and because of the expansion, the town expects an additional 186 participants in the program.
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