Friday, June 02, 2023


Finance Board Lowers Mill Rate

Finally some good news: Westporters are getting a tax break.

After keeping the mill rate flat at 16.86 for four years in a row, the Board of Finance tonight unanimously voted to decrease it to 16.71.

That translates into $16.71 of taxes for every $1,000 of a home’s assessed value determined by the revaluation four years ago.

A prior motion by board member Lee Caney to reduce the rate to 16.81 failed by a 2 to 5 vote. But when Board of Finance Chairman Brian Stern proposed an even bigger cut as give back to the community in light of insurance and OPEB (other post employment benefits) savings, Caney was on board with the vote.

“We can take some risk and give the money back even if we have an increase next year,” Caney said earlier.

The board works within a 9 to 11% range of what can be drawn down from its reserves, $26 million in the General Fund, to keep taxes down.

“I think we have an opportunity to do even more, so we can say that not only did we keep it flat, but when we had the opportunity, we gave more,” said board member Nancy Dupier.

Caney said that cutting the mill rate at a time of fiscal uncertainty in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is “good optically” when it comes to attracting new homeowners to Westport.

Board member Andrea Moore was initially hesitant, preferring a “wait and see mode for next year.”

“If COVID wasn’t here, this would be a non issue,” she said.

First Selectman Jim Marpe, who has often touted the town’s flat mill rate under his administration—among the lowest in the state—urged the board not to lower it because of economic uncertainties caused by the coronavirus and concern about a possible recession.

He pointed out that Connecticut’s current unemployment rate due to COVID-19 has jumped from 3% three months ago to a current 12%.

“My thought is that a year from now we will know more,” said Marpe, whose term ends in November 2021. “In May 2021, we can give it back then. I’m comfortable with a flat tax rate.

“It’s nice to have a little more since we don’t know what lies ahead,” he added.

Marpe also said that he would support whatever the finance board approved.

—James Lomuscio

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