The New Haven Board of Alders on May 29 passed the city’s budget for the 2018–19 fiscal year, including the 11 percent property tax hike Mayor Toni Harp initially proposed in March.

Though the funding plan still requires Harp’s final approval, the Board of Alders voted overwhelmingly to adopt a $547.1 million operating budget and a $79.6 million capital budget, both of which will take effect on July 1. The alders preserved most of Harp’s initial budget proposal, most notably the 11 percent property tax increase. Still, the Board diverged from Harp on a few points, opting to keep the schools budget constant, increase healthcare funding by $5 million and cut proposed borrowing for capital projects by $5.18 million.

For the past few months, the budget has been a major point of contention in the Elm City. In a letter accompanying her March proposal, Harp called the budget the “most difficult one” she has had to draft, a fact she attributed to decreased revenue streams from state aid and building permit fees. Even after frequent public hearings and workshops held by the Board of Alders’ Finance Committee the May 29 budget proceedings were far from smooth sailing.

Three alders — Ward 7 Alder Abigail Roth ’90 LAW ’94, Ward 10 Alder Anna Festa and Ward 21 Alder Steven Winter ’11 — all came up with last minute amendments to try and reduce the tax hike, according to the New Haven Independent. Over the past few months, constituents have shown up for public hearings in droves to complain that they simply do not understand why the city is raising taxes 11 percent.

“We cannot tax ourselves out of this situation,” Roth said at the May 29 meeting.

Together, Roth, Festa and Winter proposed more than 20 amendments to the budget, but most of them were dismissed as too vague, too late or outside the Board’s legislative purview.

The budget is now in its last stage of the legislative process. Harp must sign or veto specific items in the budget this week, or else the budget voted on by the Board of Alders will automatically go into effect come July 1.

Ashna Gupta |