At a special meeting on Thursday, the East Haven Board of Finance, by a vote of 4 to 1, returned the proposed 2019-2020 budget to Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. with a recommendation to reverse the Mayor's proposed .05 mill tax cut in favor of imposing a .20 mill increase.
Mayor Maturo explained, "Although I appreciate the hard work and advice of our Board of Finance, I am disappointed that the board is recommending a tax increase at a time when the Governor has recommended one of the largest tax increases in the State's history."
The vote to recommend a tax increase was passed on party lines, with Democratic board members Richard DePalma, Richard Esposito, Jr., Marc Conte, and Noreen Clough carrying the majority over the lone present Republican board member, Beth Purcell. Ralph Vitale, also a Republican, was absent from the meeting.
Maturo continued, "I am proud that my fellow Republican Beth Purcell held her ground and had the courage to vote 'no' on the Democratic-proposed tax-increase budget proposal. I understand that there are still some questions regarding this budget that need to be fleshed out, but I am committed to keeping taxes stable in this budget for the benefit of all of our taxpayers."
In addition to recommending an increase in taxes, Democratic recommendations on the budget also included cuts in appropriations for police overtime, the contingency fund, gas and electric costs, and to the legal self insurance fund. Although Maturo disagreed with some of the cuts, he promised to take others under consideration.
Maturo added, "Although I am absolutely opposed to the recommendation to raise taxes, I think some of the cuts proposed by my Democratic colleagues warrant some consideration. We are going to take a look at recent year-over-year trends in our utility costs to see if their recommendations on cutting utility appropriations are realistic. I am also going to consult with the Finance Director and Town Attorney to determine if the proposed cuts to the contingency and self insurance funds are responsible."
Under the Town Charter, the Board of Finance must return the budget with its recommendations to the Mayor no later than March 23rd of each calendar year. Within eight days of receipt, the Mayor is required to present his proposed budget to the Town Council. Maturo is scheduled to deliver his eighteenth combination "State of the Town" and "Budget" address on Thursday, March 28th at 7:00PM at East Haven High School.
Maturo noted, " I am going to be looking very carefully at the Board's recommendations to determine which, if any, may be responsible to include in my budget presentation to the Council next Thursday."
Maturo concluded, "Residents are already struggling to make ends meet and, in the current session, the Governor is threatening to make that job harder than ever. I do not feel that this is an appropriate time for us to be increasing taxes and I will be working with my Finance Director between now and next Thursday to finalize a fair and balanced budget that keeps taxes as low and stable as possible."