Rooney proposes a town budget with a 2 percent tax increase

Monroe Town Hall, photo by John Babina

MONROE, CT — First Selectman Terry Rooney trimmed the Board of Education’s request to fund Monroe’s public schools by $1,187,000, before proposing an overall town budget of $103.67 million with a projected tax increase of just over 2 percent for fiscal year 2024-25.

The Board of Education had asked for a $72.5 million budget with a 7.15 percent spending increase, but Rooney’s adjustment reduced it to $71,337,659 and a 5.40 percent increase.

The first selectman also wants to use $2,550,000 of the town’s unassigned general fund balance to further offset taxes.

“Our successful approach to the Town’s financial management has allowed our unassigned general fund balance to grow to $20,000,000, which is the largest amount on record,” he said, of the town’s strong fiscal position allowing officials to use some of it for the operating budget.

“By returning the calculated amount of $2,550,000 in our undesignated general fund balance back to our taxpayers, combined with the cooperation of both municipal and education leaders, this allows us to progress forward in a stable manner while maintaining a fiscally responsible path,” he said.

Monroe’s net grand list of taxable property increased by $38,610,002, to $ 2,391,763,093.

Monroe enjoys significant and sustained growth in our grand list across residential and commercial property, however, motor vehicles have seen a decrease, with all metrics substantially impacting the tax rate,” Rooney said.

“Without growth in the grand list, our community’s residents will be taxed at a much higher rate,” he added. “Therefore, it is imperative for Monroe to keep a business-friendly environment and fund the staffing demands addressed in the Land Use division of the Town.”

If the budget passes as is, the estimated mill rate would be 38.31, 2.03 percent higher than the current 37.55 mill rate. Individual tax bills can be calculated by multiplying one’s assessed property value by the mill rate and then dividing by 1,000.

The Town Council will review the municipal budget before the Board of Finance reviews the entire town budget, which includes education and municipal spending. A final version will come before the voters at a referendum on May 7.

The first selectman’s budget presentation can be found on the town’s website.

Education, municipal spending

The first selectman said spending for Monroe’s public schools is the biggest driver in the town budget, representing 68.8 percent of total spending.

“Our Board of Education has requested a 7.15 percent increase, which creates significant challenges to the budget and would create a substantial increase in property taxes,” Rooney said.

He said $500,000 in projected health insurance savings can offset some of his $1,187,000 reduction to the school board’s budget request.

The cut will also help to fund town departments providing municipal services, according to Rooney. The first selectman is proposing $31,437,169 in municipal spending, a $187,481 or 0.6 percent increase over the current budget.

Rooney said municipal department heads had asked for a $32,229,944 budget with a 3.14 percent spending increase, before he reduced it by $792,775.

The total town budget of $103,671,414 is $3,924,434 or 3.93 percent higher than the current $99,746,980 spending plan.

“This budget proposed a series of challenges, all of which had considerable tax increase implications,” Rooney said. “Therefore, when preparing my fiscal year ’25 budget proposal, it was paramount to control the tax impact on our resident work force while allocating appropriate funding for keeping a clean, safe community with annual road maintenance and drainage needs being addressed.”

“This budget also includes funding allocations for future positions in Land Use, as well as cybersecurity initiatives, in an effort to better serve our growing community, while continuing outstanding education and financial responsibility to all taxpayers in Monroe,” he said. “I have always admired Monroe’s exemplary municipal services and award-winning educational system, all of which are highly valued by our community.”

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