Council still leaves mill rate up in air

May 30, 2014

By KAITLYN NAPLES
STAFF WRITER
After another meeting with discussion on the mill rate for the next fiscal year, the Town Council was unable to reach an agreement on whether there should be a zero increase or not.
The proposal to keep the mill rate flat came from the Republican side but was defeated 4-3 because according to the Town Charter a majority of five in favor is required.
The Republican members are aware of what is expected to be a significant return of funding for school projects that would be more than the proposed tax increase of 0.16 mills.
The Democratic members are voting against a zero increase because of what the future may hold.
Democratic Councilor Chris Wazorko said at the Council meeting last Monday that while a zero increase “sounds good for the short term, we have to look out three or four years and see how much this will cost the taxpayer down the road.”
Wazorko said the funds the town is “anticipating” will be a one time increase on the revenue side, and without a tax increase the taxpayers would need to make up for that in the years to come. In the event of a future gap, the town would take money from its fund balance.
“I truly believe this is going to cost us more down the road,” Wazorko added.
Council Chair Kathy Pugliese said the Plainville taxpayers haven’t seen a zero increase in taxes in at least 20 years and said the Democrats’ decision to vote against the zero increase was “a lack of action.”
Council Vice Chair Scott Saunders said this is a very rare situation and the council should take the opportunity to give the residents a zero tax increase.
“Plainville is in very, very good shape,” Saunders said about the town’s finances. “This is a great year to give the taxpayers what little we can do for them.”
Plainville’s Town Attorney Michael Mastrianni said there isn’t anything in the Town Charter that covers what happens when the council is divided on setting the mill rate. However, he said if the council can’t reach an agreement by the time tax bills are sent out they would either be set at the current rate or be delayed.
Resident John Kisluk told the Council they should set the mill rate as it was originally proposed because an overwhelming amount of voters were in favor of the proposal.
“The Republicans are doing a disservice to the people who voted for this. Give the people what they voted for,” Kisluk said, adding while he doesn’t like a tax increase, the council should give the voters what they approved.
Another resident Lou Frangos said he doesn’t care about the politics of the situation, only his wallet and said he’d like to see the zero tax increase.
The council said it may reconvene the discussion in a special meeting the week of Memorial Day, however results weren’t available at press time.
Also at the Council meeting last Monday Town Manager Robert Lee said if the council decided demolition of the old Linden Street School was the direction they chose to go, there would be state funding available to cover just over 60 percent of the cost.
The legislature recently approved a school construction bill that would reimburse Plainville $1.5 million of the expected $2.4 million demolition project, leaving the town to pay a little over $850,000. No formal decisions have been made on what to do with the old Linden Street School.
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