Despite State Budget Woes, Maturo to Recommend No Tax Increase for '17-'18 Budget on News of Audited Surplus, Historic Debt Reduction
Following confirmation of his fifteenth budget surplus in fifteen years and Standard and Poor’s decision to award the Town of East Haven an historic two-tier bond rating upgrade from “A-“ to “A+,” Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. announced today that he intends to recommend a no-tax-increase budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Maturo explained, “Despite a slight reduction in our overall Grand List during this past year's revaluation and potential cuts in State aid in the next year, I am preparing to recommend a no-tax-increase budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year based on the Town’s five consecutive surpluses since 2011 and our success reducing debt to a modern historic low.”
Following three straight deficits between 2007 and 2011 under the prior administration that sent the Town’s fund balance spiraling into a $5.1 million dollar deficit and forced a 17% tax hike, the Town has logged five straight surpluses which have restored the town’s rainy day fund to a healthy $4.98 million dollar surplus – a $10.08 million dollar swing in just six years. During the same stretch, Maturo has earned two credit rating upgrades, including a recent two-tier upgrade from “A-“ to “A+,” for reducing the Town’s long-term debt from $48.1 million to $26.3 million.
Maturo continued, “We are currently reviewing budget submissions from various Town departments. However, based on savings generated by reducing our debt to historically low levels and assuming that State funding remains moderately on par with allocations in recent years, I am prepared to recommend a no-tax-increase budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.”
Maturo explained, “Since 2011, we've committed ourselves to getting more efficient and to doing more with less. It's been a team effort among the administration, department heads, and town workers. However, in 2015, our fiscal responsibility allowed us to enact an historic half-mill tax reduction, which marked the largest tax cut in a non-revaluation year since 1989. My budget recommendation this year will preserve those tax savings and further expand upon them for those homeowners who saw their home values drop slightly during this year’s State-mandated statistical revaluation.”
Maturo noted, "As a result, almost 70% of homeowners will continue to pay an average of almost $580.00 dollars less in taxes than they were paying under the prior administration."
In December, the Town’s independent auditor confirmed the Town ran a $1.13 million dollar surplus for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, prompting the Town to begin revisiting capital projects, including construction of a Skate Park, which it had deferred due to ongoing debt concerns. Maturo indicates that that the Town is now positioned to both hold the line on taxes, and to move forward with an aggressive capital and infrastructure campaign in the next twelve to eighteen months.
Maturo explained, “With our debt service payments firmly under control, we are beginning an aggressive infrastructure program to replace some of our aged capital machinery and to overhaul town buildings in need of repair. This initiative will supplement our grant-funded plans to build a new skate park and repair fencing at Memorial Field. Also, anticipate beginning three large-scale infrastructure projects in the next year including Phase 3A of downtown revitalization, the installation of sidewalks on North High Street, and the raising of Coe Avenue to help alleviate the flooding which regularly occurs at the intersection of Short Beach Road and Hemingway/Coe Avenues.”
In announcing his budget plans, Maturo was careful to note that massive State cuts could potentially force the Town Council to raise taxes despite his recommendation. However, Maturo expressed optimism that the Town’s state legislators will fight to avoid massive cuts to local State aid.
Maturo explained, “We are expecting some degree of cuts from the State. However, I am cautiously optimistic that our state legislators, including Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano and newly-appointed Deputy Majority Leader James Albis, will advocate to preserve the funding which our municipality deserves and relies upon.”
Maturo concluded, “Since 2011, we have strived to reduce debt and streamline government with the ultimate goal of passing operational savings on to the taxpayers in the form of stable, lower taxes. As I like to say, we've done more with less. My no-tax-increase budget recommendation this year will further advance those goals, while responsibly addressing the Town’s ongoing capital needs.”
For more information, contact Frank Gentilesco at 203-468-3204.