$194 million budget, 0.85 mill rate hike approved by city

By TAYLOR

MURCHISON-

GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

The Joint Board, comprised of the Board of Finance and City Council, approved a budget of $194,409,185 and a 0.85 mill rate increase, for fiscal year 2019.

“To the City Council, citizens, and taxpayers of Bristol, today we adopt the budget for fiscal year 2018-2019,” said BOF Chair, Cheryl Thibeault. “This budget provides the necessary services that citizens want, a budget that incites economic growth and vitality, a budget that provides substantial increase to education, and a budget that considers our taxpayers.”

The originally proposed budget was to be $194,673,615, but due to a change in reimbursement from the state to the Board of Education, for the Educational Cost Sharing program, a reduction of $264,430 was made. Thibeault said there was a 2.64 percent increase to the BOE budget from the city.

Joint Board approved to set the tax rate at 36.88 mills, a recommendation by the BOF.

“We really worked hard this year on the budget, and we started over $4 million in the hole,” said Councilor Dave Preleski. “Because of some of these miscalculations, less funding on the state side, we had to be a little bit more creative.”

Preleski said the tax increase was something that had to be done, because “it would have been much worse if we didn’t get creative.” This creativity refers to the city’s new plan to file the retirement funds of the city employees, police force, and fire department as one report. The money in each account remains separate, but they are filed as one fund, on one report.

Thibeault said this accounting recognition will save the city approximately $3 million in next year’s budget.

Preleski said it was important to recognize the hard work that many people contributed to this year’s budget, such as City Comptroller, Diane Waldron, Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu, City Treasurer Thomas O. Barnes Jr., the Police and Fire unions, and many more.

“When we began the year we had to makeup a $4 million shortfall,” said Thibeault. “$1 million alone was from motor vehicle tax, and $1.8 million was from sales tax that the state did not reimburse us for. That affected the 2018 budget, and we incorporated like reductions in the 2019 budget.”