May 28th, 2014 | City

$508 million budget passed

Nearly three months after Mayor Toni Harp unveiled her budget proposal for the 2014-’15 fiscal year, the New Haven Board of Alders voted to approve a $508 million spending plan with a 1.8 percent hike in property taxes.

The vote came at a special budget meeting Tuesday evening. Alders endorsed a series of amendments first introduced at a finance committee meeting earlier this month.

The Board trimmed $1.5 million from Harp’s proposal by flat-funding the Board of Education and saved elsewhere by cutting workers’ compensation and rearranging various personnel costs. It also budgeted an additional $2 million in revenue from expected building fees for Yale’s two new residential colleges.

Following a familiar pattern, alders voted down a series of amendments put forward by Mike Stratton, alder for Prospect Hill and Newhallville, who has been keen on scrutinizing the city’s education spending.

Those proposals included a recommended $112 million cut in education spending, according to the New Haven Independent. Stratton also suggested doing away with a $620,000 subsidy to Tweed New Haven Airport, saying that the facility’s main patrons are people from the suburbs and Yale affiliates, the Independent reported.

“If Yale wants an airport, Yale will pay for an airport,” he said. Both were swiftly voted down.

Alders did indicate willingness to more closely examine the budgetary relationship between the city and the school district, following on Board President Jorge Perez’s promise at the prior finance meeting to consider Stratton’s request to set up a task force to probe the issue. Finance chair Andrea Jackson-Brooks told the Independent she would like to see more dialogue between city officials and education administrators.

In a Wednesday statement, Harp praised the final budget package, highlighting in particular additional funding from the state in the form of Payment in Lieu of Taxes — reimbursements for tax-exempt property — and municipal revenue sharing.

“As important as it remains to deliver essential services and necessary programs for New Haven residents it is our responsibility to do so with a minimal impact on property taxpayers,” Harp said. She thanked Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, who is up for reelection this fall, for his “unwavering support of Connecticut cities.”

The new fiscal year begins July 1.