WESTPORT, Conn. -- Westport’s Board of Finance voted unanimously Wednesday night, May 21, to reduce the town's tax rate from 18.07 mills to 17.94 mills for the fiscal year 2014-15, according to a statement from the town.
First Selectman Jim Marpe recommended the tax reduction.
“Over the past few years, this Board of Finance has taken a conservative approach to ensure the stability of our town’s finances," he said in a statement. "You successfully faced the double challenge of navigating the town through the recession, while at the same time helping to fund and reform our expensive and unsustainable pension and OPEB (other post- employment benefits) obligations. Westport taxpayers absorbed the brunt of the tax increases required to maintain our financial stability, world-class schools, infrastructure, and town services.”
Marpe said the town is now able to reduce the tax rate with the revenue growth.
“Your hard work is paying off. We have grown our Grand List, our tax collection percentage is up, our shift to High Deductible Health Savings Plans is helping control our medical costs, and our department heads are finding innovative ways to enhance productivity. Our conservative actuarial methodology assures that investment returns will help offset possible lower returns in the future.
“I believe we can make a responsible tax reduction this year while retaining this board’s conservative financial discipline.”
Board of Finance Chairman John Pincavage also praised the trim in the mill rate.
“The close working relationship between the Board of Finance and the selectman’s office has tremendously benefited the town and taxpayers," Pincavage said. "Collaboration results in improved decision making and greater efficiencies.”
Selectman Avi Kaner, formerly the chairman of the Board of Finance, pointed out the benefits of the tax cut.
“This outcome benefits all Westport taxpayers. It is the result of Westport’s conservative fiscal discipline over the past few years, the improved economic expansion in our town, and the hard work of our department heads to carefully manage costs,” Kaner said.
The reduction was possible because of additional town revenue of about $2.5 million, instead of the $1.5 million initially anticipated, during the fiscal year, according to the Westport News.
The overall town budget totals $198,249,184, a 2.5 percent increase over the 2013-14 budget. That total includes $76.6 million for town spending and $109.2 million for the Westport schools.