DEEP RIVER—05/02–CORRECTION: Deep River Elementary School population is predicted to show an increase rather than decrease, as previously reported in this article. The public hearing is Tuesday on a proposed $3.61 million town government budget for 2011-2012 and a proposed $5.19 million appropriation for Deep River Elementary School. The hearing convenes at 7:30 p.m. in the gymnasium at the elementary school.
The total $13,896,944 spending package includes $3,617,748 for town government, $5,192,900 for the elementary school, the town’s $4,387,300 share of the Region 4 education budget, and $699,000 in town and school related debt service costs.
First Selectman Richard Smith said the spending plan is expected to require an increase in the tax rate of 2.55 mills, despite decreases in the town government budget and the local share of the Region 4 budget. The current tax rate of 21.73 mills, or $21.73 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value, has not increased for the past two years. Smith said the prospective tax rate of 24.28 mills is a “worst case” projection that could be slightly reduced by the board of finance after the budgets are approved by voters.
More than two-thirds of the potential tax hike, specifically 1.8 mills, is a direct result of an eight percent decrease in the October 2010 grand list of taxable property. The sharp drop in the grand list is a result of a required townwide property revaluation that was completed last year amid the slow national economy and a related decline in real estate values. But Smith said a report prepared by Tax Assessor Robin O’Loughlin shows that 808 residential properties will have a varying decrease in the actual tax bill, despite the higher mill rate, while 1,265 residential properties will have a higher tax bill.
The proposed town government budget decreases by about $372,000, with savings resulting from the disbanding last year of the former Deep River Public Health Nurses and changing a full-time building office clerk/park and recreation director position to two separate part time positions. The $3.61 million town government appropriation includes a $235,260 capital expenditure plan.
The proposed $5,192,900 budget for Deep River Elementary School represents a 5.5 percent spending increase over the current appropriation for the school. The proposed budget retains all current teacher positions at the school, despite discussion of the possible elimination of two teacher positions.
Smith said the board of finance would consider any possible adjustments to the town government and elementary school budgets based on input received from residents at the public hearing. He said the town government and elementary school budgets would then go to the voters for approval at a referendum expected in the fourth week of May. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex for approval in an eight-hour referendum Tuesday.