Spring is in the air, birds are chirping and flowers are in full bloom, which can only mean one thing – it’s budget season! A couple weeks ago I submitted my proposed budget for FY 2021 to the Common Council, and I am proud to say that this budget is one that reduces taxes by 2% for all New Britain residents for the first time in nearly 15 years.
The 2% reduction in the tax rate on personal property, real estate and motor vehicles equates to about a $350 savings for the average family in New Britain. This tax decrease is the result of the smart, stable and responsible budgeting principals that have been the cornerstone of my time as your mayor.
When I first took office, the city was facing a $30 million deficit and a potential state takeover was all too real. It has taken years of hard work and making smart and tough decisions to be able to achieve the financial stability we have today. Every step along the way I have repeated my mantra that financial stability is not a destination, but a continuous journey that requires daily vigilance. We remain on that journey, but we are moving in the right direction. Because of that, I was able to submit a proposed budget that lowers taxes and provides financial relief during a time when so many need it.
It is critical to note that not one piece of my proposed budget, including the tax reduction, is dependent on the federal relief for coronavirus that we are set to receive. These funds will be one-time payments that do not go into our general fund budget. They will be spent outside of this budget for maximum and immediate impact as we recover from the effect of the pandemic on our community.
While my proposed budget not only lowers taxes, it increases funding to the Education Savings Account and does not include any layoffs or eliminate essential services. Money is allocated to the ongoing fight against blight throughout the City, and we increase funding for our liabilities and pensions. Additionally, there is funding for stipends for designated Spanish and Polish translators to help residents with city business.
Bottom line, no matter who you are, my proposed budget will save you money while maintaining the city services residents deserve. We will continue to be a city that attracts others to invest in us, because we will continue to invest in ourselves – whether that’s investing in our schools, in our parks, in our infrastructure, or our residents. New Britain will continue to grow stronger each and every year.
Erin Stewart is the mayor of New Britain