In a six- to-one vote, the Westport Board of Finance set the mil rate for the coming fiscal year at 14.85. Westport homeowners will owe $44 more in taxes for every $100,000 of assessed value. That's an increase of 3.05 percent.
Member Charles Haberstroh dissented. He objected to any increase unless First Selectman Gordon Joseloff forces town departments to return $2.3 million to the general fund's reserve account. The administrators of both the schools and the town have to start looking at doing things more efficiently, Haberstroh said. He also questioned why consolidations weren't being considered.
Joseloff said those terms were impossible. He can't order a department head to spend less than what has been approved in the budget process.
At 14.85, the mill rate underfunds the operating budget by $2.5 million. If spending is not reduced, the town will probably dip into its reserves to make up the difference. Haberstroh's plan would have forced the town to restore most of that $2.5 million by the end of the year. Draining too much money from the reserve account could lead to a reduction in the town's bond ratingm he said.
For homeowners, assessments are at 70 percent of the property's fair market value. Taxes are paid in four installments throughout the fiscal year. The first bills will be due July 1, with subsequent payments on the firsts of October, January and April.
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