Bristol budget talks begin with tax hike proposal
Before Town Council members, municipal department heads and Bristol residents took their first look at the town budget for fiscal 2015 Tuesday night, Town Administrator Tony Teixeira delivered some unwelcome news to property owners.
“I am recommending an increase in the property tax rate from $12.80 to $14.80,” Mr. Teixeira said.
Part of his reasoning comes from the latest revaluation of town properties. Based on the preliminary assessment numbers, Bristol is facing an 11 percent decline in values across the town.
“As the property values decline, the tax rate must increase to raise the same level of revenue,” he said.
Mr. Teixeira also addressed a decline in state school funding, due to a changing funding formula and the declining enrollment of Bristol residents.
“The budget presented by the Bristol Warren Regional School Department requested a 4 percent increase, and while they have put forth a responsible budget, you will see that I have recommended a 2.25 percent increase,” he said.
The town is able to absorb much of the increases in debt service and capital expenses, with the overall budgeted expenditures of the general fund rising by 1.71 percent for the next fiscal year.
“I am once again proposing the use of $1 million of general fund balance reserves in an effort to keep the tax rate as low as possible, without jeopardizing the bond rating,” Mr. Teixeira said.
The town administrator also recommended increasing the sewer use fees from $425 per year to $435.50.
The goal, he said, is to “maintain a minimum of 15 percent in our unassigned general fund reserves.” That amount will retain a favorable borrowing rate and remain available in the event of any unforeseen emergencies.
Town officials will continue to discuss each department’s budget request through Tuesday, March 25. The public is encouraged to attend each session, held at Town Hall each night, beginning at 7 p.m.
A vote on the preliminary budget will be taken at a public meeting on April 7.