Towns waiting on state guidance to set mill rate - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Towns waiting on state guidance to set mill rate

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)
MANCHESTER, CT (WFSB) -

State residents may already be seeing the consequences of lawmakers failure to meet the deadline to agree on a state budget.

Usually, the deadline for car tax bills would have passed, but in some towns, the bills haven't even been mailed out. 

That's because some towns are still waiting on guidance from the state on setting the mill rate. 

Eyewitness News reporter Matthew Campbell spoke with Manchester residents, where 46,000 drivers have been affected.

Drivers received a slip explaining why the town will mail bills in September.

The warnings are plastered all over Manchester Town Hall. 

The car tax bill that drivers usually would've received by now will be coming in September. 

Assessor John Rainaldi said the delay can directly be blamed on the absence of a budget.

"We're waiting to see more resolution on what the motor vehicle mill rate should and will be," Rainaldi said.

The state passed a law requiring a mill rate of no more than 32 on vehicles. For towns that relied on a higher rate in order to balance it's budget, the state promised to reimburse. 

But because of dire times, Bloomfield's finance director Jim Wren said there's no signs of any reimbursement.

"Our tax bill is now down to 32, we're now not getting that $600,000, so we're starting the fiscal year with a $600,000 hole in the budget," Wren said.

Bloomfield is one of several towns taxing now at the required rate of 32. They're including this insert that warns of another bill that could be coming depending on what happens with the state budget. In Manchester, Rainaldi said they can afford to wait until September where they'll hopefully have a clear picture of how much to tax.

"Rather than going out now and over-billing our customers and doing refunds or under billing customers and having to do a supplemental bill for the difference, we as a town felt it was best to wait," Rainaldi said.

Waiting, if they can afford to do it, may be wise because this wouldn't be the first time the mill rate was changed by the state.

"Last year was originally 32, then changed to 37. So somewhere between 32 and 37 is what we're estimating," Rainaldi said.

Other towns like Bristol aren't running into this problem at all because Mayor Ken Cockayne said the car bills in his city went out at 32 and are expected to stay that way.

"The state may raise it to 37 but we can't balance our budget on a 'may.' We have to use the actual numbers we know today, so we did our 32 mills and that's what we budgeted on. Even if it goes to 37 our budget will absorb that increase so we shouldn't see another bill go out," Bristol mayor Ken Cockayne said.

As you can see, each town is approaching this differently. Any resident wondering about their town can call their town assessor directly.

There's also an informal survey that went out to assessors across the state asking how they're dealing with this. 

The results will be available on Eyewitness News when they are released.

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