City | 8:47 am | May 30, 2013 | By Isaac Stanley-Becker

Board of Aldermen approves city budget

The New Haven Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a city budget Tuesday night that raises property taxes to accommodate a slim increase in spending combined with a reduction in state funding.

The budget, passed in a special budget meeting at City Hall, sets the mill rate for the 2013-2014 fiscal year at 41.88 — an increase of three from the current rate. As a result, an average homeowner will pay an extra $25 in property taxes per month. That tax increase covers a 2.4 increase in expenditures, bringing the budget up to $497,454,609.

That figure comes in about $6 million below the $503 million budget Mayor John DeStefano Jr. pitched to the Board in March,when he offered aldermen three budget options to choose from depending on various levels of state funding. In addition to savings in attrition cuts the Board’s finance committee located, the city also received more funding than expected from the state.

A press release from the mayor’s office notes that the budget aims to preserve what it describes as “core” services and programs, including the School Change initiative, senior centers and public parks. More funding has been allocated for the city’s police force as well as the fire department. Each of the city’s 10 police districts will see two new walking beats, and 80 new firefighters will join the New Haven Fire Department.

“In light of dramatic state revenue cuts I think that, on balance, this is a prudent budget that preserves core city services,” DeStefano said in the press release. “While it is never ideal to have to raise taxes, it is vital for the health and the future of New Haven to preserve and continue development of three essential areas: education and School Change, public safety and economic growth.”

Two East Rock aldermen—Justin Elicker, who is running for mayor, and Jessica Holmes—previously sought to amend the budget to block the $3 million increase in the Board of Education budget. They acquiesced Tuesday and did not raise the amendment before the full Board of Aldermen.

Still, Elicker told the New Haven Independent that he was “disappointed” with the budget.

“This tax increase is going to be really hard for people in New Haven,” Holmes told the Independent.

The new budget takes effect on July 1.

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