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Easton May Cut Spending, Raise Property Tax Rate

EASTON, Conn. – If Easton First Selectman Thomas Herrmann 's proposed spending plan were to pass, the town would see a 2012-13 budget of $41.01 million and a mill rate increase to 29.1, according a presentation made before the Board of Finance on Tuesday evening.

First Selectman Thomas Herrmann said Wednesday morning that although the town could see a mill rate increase from 22.95 to 29.1, it doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in taxes for residents.

“The proposed budget does not call for an increase in taxes and the proposed mill rate does not call for an increase in the amount of taxes levied,” Herrmann said.

According to Herrmann’s proposal, the town side of the budget totals $15,407,913, a 1.88 percent decrease from the current budget of $15,702,981. (The budget calendar runs from July 1 to June 30.) This would be the fourth consecutive year that the town's portion of the proposed budget declined, Herrmann said Tuesday night.

The rest of the $25 million includes the education side. Easton is part of the Region 9 school system, so the total education budget includes the Easton budget of $15.39 million , Easton’s Board of Education Capital request of $92,000 and the Region 9 Board of Education budget of $10.11 million.

The town's mill rate could go to 29.1, up from the current 22.95 mills, Herrmann said. For every $1,000 of assessed property, the owner would pay $29.10 in taxes to the town.

The decrease could be due to a variety of factors, including market conditions, building costs, buyer motivation and style desirability. “What does that mean to taxpayers?” Herrmann said. It means that “even if there is no change in the level of taxation” as provided in his proposed budget, 27.7 percent of residents would still see their taxes go up by 5 percent or more.

“That significantly impacts the redistribution of the tax burden,” Herrmann said.

Tuesday’s meeting was simply a presentation by Herrmann. The Board of Finance is expected to go over all departments' budget requests this week and the education budget requests next week before making a final decision.

“This may be the most challenging budget this board has faced in recent history,” Herrmann told the finance board Tuesday night. But with fiscally responsible budgets submitted by most of the town department heads, “we were able to do what the public called to get done,” he said.

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