Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. announced today that he has turned over his proposed $91.6 million dollar budget for the upcoming 2019-2020 fiscal year to the East Haven Board of Finance, a budget which includes a reduction in the mill rate - from 32.45 to 32.40 mills, the preservation of all current services, and an increase to spending of just nine one-hundredths of a percent (.09%). According to Town records, the proposed mill rate reduction marks the second proposed by Maturo since 2015.
Maturo explained, "Since resuming office in 2011, my team and I have charted a careful, responsible fiscal path for the Town of East Haven which has focused on restoring our rainy day fund, reducing debt, and borrowing responsibly to address the Town's infrastructure needs. I am proud to be proposing another budget which addresses all of those goals and which puts more money back in taxpayers' pockets."
In the 2015-2016 budget, Maturo proposed and the Town enacted the largest tax decrease in a non-revaluation year since 1989, which reduced the mill rate by .50 mills. Maturo's proposed $91.6 million dollar budget includes an additional .05 mill reduction and represents a spending increase of just .09%, or $77,884 dollars, over the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget.
Maturo explained, “Since 2011, we've committed ourselves to being more efficient and to doing more with less. It hasn't been easy. It's been a team effort among the administration, department heads, and town workers. My budget recommendation this year expands upon the tax savings already being realized by our residents. In fact, if approved by the Town Council, around 70% of taxpayers will be paying less in taxes than they were when I resumed office in 2011."
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 which forced a 17% tax hike, the Town has logged seven straight surpluses which have restored the town’s rainy day fund to a healthy $5.84 million dollar surplus – its highest level since 2007. During the same stretch, Maturo has earned two credit rating upgrades, including a two-tier upgrade from “A-“ to “A+,” for reducing the Town’s long-term debt, which now stands at approximately $22.25 million dollars - down 53.7% from the $48.1 million in debt the Town was carrying in 2011.
Paul Rizza, the Town's Finance director, added, "A huge part of earning those upgrades has been our commitment to restoring our rainy day fund. Over the past eight years, we have grown the Town's fund balance, or rainy day fund, by almost 2,900% from just $201,000.00 dollars in 2011 to a healthy $5.84 million dollars as of 2018."
Maturo explained, "This upcoming budget is no gimmick and it's certainly not smoke and mirrors. Rather, my proposed budget includes an incredible 13.86% scheduled reduction in the Town's annual debt payment, from $3,141,901 to $2,706,478. I am proposing using some of that savings to absorb increases in other departments and that we return the balance of that savings to the hardworking taxpayers in the form of a mill rate reduction."
Maturo continued, "As I've noted previously, the State's dismal fiscal climate and the unpredictability of State funding has made it more difficult than ever to craft a balanced budget. This past budget year, our community lost $357,240.00 in State funding for the "Circuit Breaker" program for our seniors and $854,319.00 in "municipal revenue sharing funding" which subsidizes a host of local initiatives. However, despite losing that funding, we didn't eliminate programs. Looking ahead, we're crunching our revenue and grant numbers very carefully to ensure we can continue to preserve and expand vital local services."
Maturo concluded, "Since 1997, my administration has charted a responsible fiscal course for our community, a course which has enabled the Town to preserve and expand services for our residents while keeping taxes low and steady. I am proud, especially in light of the laundry list of taxes being proposed by the Governor this year, to be proposing a budget which holds spending steady and which reduces the local tax burden. As we move forward into budget season, I look forward to receiving the input of the Board of Finance, to giving my annual budget address, and to working with our Town Council to pass this tax-decrease budget."
For more information, contact Joe Coppola at 203-468-3204.