Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include further explaination of the mill rate increase.
Board of Finance members unanimously approved an $80.5 million budget for fiscal year 2013-14 Thursday night, which carries a 2.42% increase in spending and a 3.44% tax hike. First Selectman Steve Vavrek says Monroe taxpayers will get good value for their money.
"People just want to see services for their tax dollar," he said. "This is a much smaller increase than has been passed in previous years, but it's giving you much more services, more security and a better overall town."
The first selectman touted funding for updated equipment for fire firefighters — replacing equipment that will soon expire, three new school resource officers, a new police dispatcher, improvements in school security, full-day kindergarten, two new plow trucks, funds for a counselling program run by Social Services and a continued dedication to improving town roads.
Vavrek praised the work of Town Council and Board of Finance members in revising the budget proposal throughout the process.
Voting members of the Board of Finance Thursday night were Chairman Mark Reed, Vice Chairman Michael Manjos, Chris Baudouin and John Ostaszewski.
"The school system has been a treasure to work with," Vavrek said. "Supt. James Agostine has pinched every penny. These are lean budgets. We're only increasing services for our citizens."
Calculating Individual Tax Bills
The budget proposal has $52,334,919 for education (a 1.72% increase) and $20,197,349 in municipal spending (a 5.22% increase). Municipal debt service is $5,751,542. The budget would be paid for with $68,994,686 in taxes assuming a 98% collection rate.
The mill rate would increase from 29.26 mills to 30.5 mills for a 4.24% increase. Board of Finance Chairman Mark Reed said the mill rate went up higher than the tax rate because of a drop in the Grand List.
On Friday morning, Reed said, "Due to the decrease in the grand list and decreased revenues, even if the expenses were absolutely flat (ie, 0% spend increase), the mill rate would still go up 1.4%."
A mill is equal to one dollar of tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. Individual property taxes can be calculated by multiplying your property assessment by the mill rate and dividing it by $1,000.
Assessed value is 70% of fair market value. For example, a house with a fair market value of $300,000 has a property assessment of $210,000. The owner would pay $6,405 in taxes if the budget passes as is, for a $260 increase from the current bill.