Less than 24 hours before a public hearing on the proposed $287 million municipal budget, with a projected 6.4 percent tax increase, town officials announced Friday they reduced the proposed tax increase to about 4.8 percent.
First Selectman Michael Tetreau and Board of Finance Chairman Thomas Flynn, in a joint statement issued at 4 p.m. Friday, attributed the lower increase in spending for 2013-14 to reduced health-care costs, administrative initiatives and operational adjustments.
The Board of Finance's annual forum to hear from residents on the budget proposal is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Fairfield Senior Center on Mona Terrace.
"Like many citizens, my Board of Finance colleagues and I were concerned with the original proposed budget increase of 6.4 percent," Flynn said. "We have worked long and hard with the Board of Selectmen to understand and adjust the number downwards.
Both Flynn and Tetreau said the reduction doesn't mean there would be no additional cuts to spending plans for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
"We're not done working on this yet," Tetreau said. "Town officials continue to scrutinize every aspect of every department to reduce the tax increase while ensuring we keep essential town and school services."
The final numbers for pension costs, retiree medical costs and "improved operational adjustments" led to the reduction, according to Friday's statement.
A 4.8 percent tax increase would translate into a new tax rate of about 24.51 mills. Before the adjustments, the new budget would have pushed the tax rate to 24.86 mills. The current mill rate is 23.37.
A home assessed at $350,000 would see its tax bill go from $8,179 to $8,578 with a 24.51-mill tax rate, but it would have been $8,701 at the 24.86-mill rate.