The Day – New London council passes budget with lower tax rate
New London – City Council on Monday approved a budget of $ 96.29 million for fiscal 2022 that will slightly reduce the city’s tax rate for the third year in a row and increase funding for the Department of Human Services from the city.
Community members continued to make an unsuccessful appeal to the council for a significant cut in funding for policing and reallocation to areas such as mental health services, recreation and education.
The council’s latest response, however, was not to cut the police budget, but rather to move $ 120,000 to a special account intended to bolster the $ 627,475 budget for the Department of Human Services. The money comes from the recently projected savings on police, fire and public works health insurance costs. The council transferred $ 54,000 from the police budget, $ 39,600 from fires and $ 26,400 from public works.
Human Services Director Jeanne Milstein is already using $ 200,000 of her budget to create a peer navigator initiative to reduce the number of mental health-related police calls.
Milstein said on Monday that an additional $ 120,000 could be used in part for a prevention and education campaign to end the stigma associated with issues related to mental illness and addiction. She said the money could also be used for a youth leadership initiative on mental health and anti-racism training for youth and adults.
“I want a community coalition to get involved in this file,” said Milstein.
Councilor Reona Dyess said the community needs support, especially young people, and hopes to reach entire families with the increased resources.
Asked at a finance committee meeting ahead of the budget vote, Police Chief Peter Reichard has resisted calls for cuts to his budget. Councilor James Burke said his desire was to eliminate the proposed increase in the police budget. The police budget, the largest of all city departments at $ 12.28 million, will increase by $ 116,046, or 0.95%, under the approved budget.
Reichard said only 1% of the police budget is spent on operations, while the rest covers personnel costs which include things like contract increases and benefits.
Burke ultimately voted to approve the budget, a conflicting decision, he said, because his hope was that his colleagues and the mayor “dig deeper to reinvent public safety in New London.” He applauded the council’s work to boost human services and better fund youth initiatives. In addition to the increases in human services, the council transferred $ 242,000 into the budget to sponsor programs run by New London Youth Affairs.
Overall, the proposed budget of $ 96.29 million represents a 1.9% increase over the current budget and includes a government budget of $ 51.8 million and a spending plan for the education of $ 44.5 million.
The total increases in municipal services are 2.27% and the proposed budget for education is an overall increase of $ 484,650 or 1.1%, which represents a 2.25% increase in the portion of the budget funded. by taxpayers. The education portion of the budget is jointly funded by the national education cost-sharing program and taxpayer funds.
The budget is expected to lower the city’s tax rate of $ 38.19 million from 0.24 mill to 37.95 mills while maintaining an estimated fund balance of $ 13.7 million.
One of the strongest supporters of police budget cuts, Kris Wraight, expressed disappointment after Monday’s virtual meeting.
“Shame on you all,” said Wraight. “It’s a racist budget.”
Councilor Curtis Goodwin called for those involved in promoting change “to stay engaged and involved in city government.”
This year, numerous calls for budget cuts and police budget changes to support the city’s marginalized population have come from a coalition calling itself the New London People’s Budget Coalition.
“You should all be proud of yourself. We pushed the needle, something I didn’t see growing up in New London… advice that was dedicated to being intentional with our municipal government dollars, ”Goodwin said. “I just wanted to take a minute to say that you are appreciated. You are heard. Remember that the fight is not over.