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Norwalk tax Board approves budget, hears Oak Hills Update

Monday’s Board of Estimate and Taxation meeting on Zoom.

Correction, 3:30 p.m. Thursday: Tax levy is $351.6 million; 6 p.m., Wednesday: Budget is $385.6 million.

NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Board of Estimate and Taxation unanimously approved a $385.6 million operating budget and mill rates for the fiscal year that begins July 1, of which about $351.6 million will be paid for in taxes.

“This was a very, very challenging year for a lot of reasons,” Mayor Harry Rilling said. “I want to really commend the department heads for coming in with budgets that are reasonable and considerate for what we’re going through now.”

Rilling said that they “ended up turning down a tremendous number” of increased positions and other requests.

“We want to make sure we’re not taxing people out of Norwalk,” he said, adding that due to the coronavirus, Norwalk and Fairfield County towns are seeing people looking to move in.

Still, taxes are going up in each of the city’s six taxing districts.

  • In the First Taxing District, the median homeowner, with a value of $240,510, will see their tax bill increase $162.
  • In the Second Taxing District, the median homeowner, with a value of $227,665, will see their tax bill increase $152.
  • In the Third Taxing District, the median homeowner, with a value of $304,840, will see their tax bill increase $195.
  • In the Fourth Taxing District, the median homeowner, with a value of $276,490, will see their tax bill increase $208.
  • In the Fifth Taxing District, the median homeowner, with a value of $375,995, will see their tax bill increase $307.
  • In the Sixth Taxing District, the median homeowner, with a value of $762,310, will see their tax bill increase $602.

 

 

COVID-19 Expenses

The Board of Estimate and Taxation also approved more than $500,000 in COVID-19 related expenses for the police, fire, operations and public works, and Board of Education.

The Board of Education received the largest amount—$358,412—to clean and disinfect all of the Norwalk Public Schools buildings, according Angela Fogel, director of management and budgets.

The fire department received $104,019, mostly to cover personnel expenses, much of which came after one firefighter was exposed, Rilling said.

“When they had to quarantine one firefighter, all the firefighters had to be quarantined,” Rilling said, adding that they had to bring on a new shift to cover those who weren’t able to work.

 

 

Oak Hills Park Authority

Oak Hills has been back up and running since May 8, according to Carl Dickens, chair of the Oak Hills Park Authority.

“The golf course has been extremely busy, where tee times are booked solid almost every day,” he said.

When the course reopened, Dickens estimated that they “had somewhere in the neighborhood of about $1600” in their bank account. However, with the uptick in play, this weekend they brought in about $40,000 and have brought in about $200,000 since play resumed, he said. Some of that went to paying debt service, as well as a $20,000 payment for a certificate of insurance, he said.

“It doesn’t mean we’re anywhere out of the woods yet, but we’re working on it,” Dickens said.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dickens said they had about $150,000 in outings booked, but many of those have been canceled. Some have postponed, keeping their deposit with Oak Hills for an event next year, he said.

The restaurant at the course has not yet been reopened, although they are thinking about some kind of to-go service to golfers who want to grab a meal when they’re finished, he said, although no plans have been set in stone.

 

 

Town Hall Wednesday

Rilling announced that his town hall this Wednesday will feature Sen. Chris Murphy (D), local clergy members, and community leaders, including Brenda Penn-Williams from the local NAACP to discuss the death of George Floyd, protests in Norwalk, and building community relationships.

They will be talking “about the things we need to do going forward,” Rilling said, stating that he wanted to stop “reacting when one thing happens” and keep issues on the front burner.

16 comments

John ONeill June 2, 2020 at 7:33 am

Every Norwalk taxpayer should thank our state Representative’s for bringing zilch, nada, zero, crap back from Hartford. I don’t care what brochures what politicians send out. Our representatives seem to care more about others than Norwalk”s taxpayers. The lack of ELL funding is proof of that. Every time I cut a check to pay my increased property taxes it makes me sick. State taxes will also be going up. I’m sure our current representatives will lead the charge on taking more money out of our pockets while smiling for the camera. While the South had carpetbaggers after the civil war, We have lobbyists’s puppets in today’s Connecticut.

Ron Morris June 2, 2020 at 10:13 am

It is time now that Rilling is gone. What ever happened to all the new tax dollars from all the mega apartments? The election is a year a few months away can a real contender please come forward and beat Rilling.
We can no longer afford Rilling and his out of control spending.
FYI the answer is NOT Lisa.

Eleanor Lx. June 2, 2020 at 11:41 am

Clearly the governance of this city is out of control when tax hikes are inflicted amidst a severe recession and promises of commercial development to mitigate tax burdens fails to come to fruition. Shame on city government for failing to control spending – this is exactly why Norwalk has become a laughing stock.

Norwalk native June 2, 2020 at 1:28 pm

Sure Harry,

People ARE moving into Darien, Wilton and Westport. Why would anyone who could afford better be looking to move into Norwalk with its increasingly segregated school system and the resulting ever increasing taxes? “Tone-death” would be too generous a criticism to level hear. Years of non-existent zoning enforcement means that Norwalk will not participate in the influx of City dwellers to Fairfield County. Norwalk residents will however continue to participate in the ever-increasing mill rate required to pay for City Halls’ servitude to the Educational Industrial Complex and to the Public Employee Unions; of which tax-hike Harry is a proud (and rich) alumnus.

Norwalk native June 2, 2020 at 2:24 pm

Just read that Wilton is decreasing their Mill rate by 3.77%, citing the deteriorated economic environment. Officials asked department heads to come in with budget proposals that were 2 to 10 percent lower than last year.

Is any of this sinking in?

Its great to see at least one well managed municipality in the state of CT. No wonder people are moving from the City to Wilton!

Norwalk Lost June 2, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Never has income inequality been greater than municipal employees vs. the citizens they serve. Raising taxes in this environment is tone deaf to say the least. Self-serving, self-preserving and not for the people. It’s no wonder why you can’t find parking at city hall . . . all the spaces are taken up by employees and such a disgrace more financial burdens are placed in the form of higher taxes. The city is marching towards Bridgeport’s fate.

JustaTaxpayer June 2, 2020 at 7:02 pm

Last fall I was on the highway and saw a car parked with personal effects. I figured it was a college student. No, it was a middle age man escaping Connecticut. The words painted in white indicated his plan. I pray god affords me a new opportunity in a different geography. Please pray for me and my family

Norwalk parent June 3, 2020 at 12:29 am

Harry’s goal: to have the only school system in Connecticut closed for summer school and camps.
Shame.

Bryan Meek June 3, 2020 at 10:36 am

Just to put things in perspective, if future budgets never go down this increase if it is 4% represents a $650 million perpetuity cost to the city.

Native Norwalker June 3, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Wilton & neighboring towns are LOWERING their mill rates. Can’t Norwalk at least attempt to do the same? Salary cuts, staff cuts – oh, no, Rilling will not consider these!

Bryan Meek June 4, 2020 at 1:45 pm

You still have the incorrect number for the tax levy. That’s the same number as last years. $331mm. That’s impossible given the increases in both the grand list and the increases themselves. Or are they forecasting a 5% dip in ability to collect? Also are we going to take their word on the assumption that they are still going to collect 98% of the revenues when there is 20% unemployment with average citizens having less than a few months savings? Are they assuming that people will pay their property tax bills before groceries, energy, mortgage, iPhones, and pet grooming? I’ll go out on a limb here and guesstimate that the city will only collect 90% which will be a $30 million shortfall in collections. And that’s before the 400 lawsuits on bogus commercial valuations get sorted out and those were filed before the corporate real estate market just fundamentally and permanently contracted. Keep on spending like there is no tomorrow should be our city motto.

Kevin Kane June 4, 2020 at 4:38 pm

Norwalk native and Native Norwalker, as we legally crossed the border of Norwalk heading into Wilton 1 year ago, we took the proverbial rear view mirror off the car and have never looked back after our move. Challenges to a degree but WELL worth the move and never thought I would see a cut to a budget in Government but Lynne put the challenge out and it was met. Happy to recommend our realtor, in addition to helping us move from from Norwalk to Wilton, she has helped 1 family move out of Norwalk, is in contact with 1 other family/friend who is trying to leave. It amazing to watch – not hear about or rumors….to watch…close friends just bought in New Canaan, 1 more is looking, another is either headed out of Norwalk to Fairfield County or SC, one family is negotiations to buy somewhere in Fairfield County. 16 school aged kids in the mix across the families. It’s sad but we didn’t see the many issues changing for the better so we voted with our feet and wallet.

Bryan Meek June 5, 2020 at 7:31 am

Yes Kevin. Voting with their feet. I know about a ton of for sale signs going up around Cranbury really soon. The mismanagement of the city and state are too overwhelming for the average citizen to digest. They just leave. The city gets its conveyance taxes and loses more character, day by day.

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