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Westport Strikes it Rich as Income Grows

Despite the economic downturn, Westport is one of only two towns in Fairfield County – the other is Greenwich — to show an increase in family median income in 2010 as it topped $160,000.

The town is ranked fifth in the county and state in family median income, which rose in Westport from $155,614 in 2009 to $160,451 in 2010.

For the first time in more than a decade, Darien is on top as the richest town in Connecticut at $185,619, moving up from third. New Canaan is second at $180,434.

The figures were compiled by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center Inc. in Rocky Hill, a nonprofit agency that researches and provides economic data used by the state.

Westport officials cited several reasons the town rose in median income while most of the other 22 Fairfield County municipalities experienced a decline. "I think we have been doing a good job keeping taxes low, and our real estate market has not been impacted as much as many of the other towns," said Board of Finance Chairwoman Helen Garten.

"Obviously, I'm very happy for the people of Westport who have come out of the economic downturn unscathed," she said. "But there are still reasons to be cautious in setting the tax rate. There are some people in Westport who are being impacted by the economy, as we are seeing a lot of people still unemployed, working for less pay or part time."

She also said the town was still grappling with "extremely high pensions and benefits" and trying to keep taxes low while providing essential and top quality services for the town.

Alissa DeJonge, director of research for the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, said despite declines in most towns, Fairfield County continues to have the highest family median income of any county in the state. The median income dropped in Fairfield County from $82,184 in 2009 to $77,620 in 2010, she said.

"Even in affluent places the median income declined because companies have downsized and people have taken positions that pay less," she said. "Executives who stayed with their companies did not receive the large bonuses they have in the past."

Do you feel like your family's median income has increased in the past year? Leave a comment below.

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