Milford taxpayers may see dip

MILFORD – Taxpayers heard some good news Monday night: The town tax rate will go down by 23 cents per thousand, a 3.2 percent decrease, if the operating budget and all other warrant articles are approved in March.

Town Administrator Mark Bender explained during his PowerPoint presentation at the budget hearing that the town’s operating budget of $13.9 million is a small increase over the default budget under which the town is working this year. That’s offset by a town revenue increase and a rise in the overall value of property, which is up by 1.5 percent.

The tax rate calculation don’t include a $2 million bond for road reconstruction. If it passes, the bond payment will affect taxes the next year.

That tax rate decrease comes despite more than $800,000 worth of other articles.

Six of them establish capital reserve funds for bridge replacement, communications equipment, fire apparatus, ambulance replacement, Keyes Memorial Park expansion and property revaluation.

Another $110,000 article would pay for installation of energy-efficient outside lighting, including street lighting, which is expected to give the town a payback in less than two years.

“It’s an extremely good deal,” Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Fougere said.

Two other articles, for lease purchases of a Public Works dump truck and a tractor backhoe, received split votes from selectmen, who are recommending them 3-2.

The board is also split on an $8,500 article for fireworks. It gave unanimous yes votes to social services funding, the regional bus service, summer band concerts and parade funding.

Selectmen tabled two articles from the Conservation Commission.

One would merge two town parcels with the Mile Slip Town Forest, with Gary Daniels saying selectmen need more information. They also tabled a $20,000 petition article for the conservation land fund. Daniels said the board should know how much is in the fund before making a decision.

Selectmen recommend unanimously an article that would give them the authority to grant tax relief to downtown property owners who restore their buildings.

They tabled a petition article regarding sports fields on Heron Pond Road, saying it’s confusing and that the fields have already been built.

The town Advisory Budget Committee has not yet prepared its recommendations.

The town Deliberative Session is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, in the Town Hall auditorium. Election Day is Tuesday, March 14.

The town budget is only a fraction of overall town spending; a public hearing for the School Board’s proposed spending plan will be held Tuesday, Jan. 17. The district’s $40.6 million operating budget and other warrant articles would result in a rate increase of $1.08, up 5.25 percent.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.