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.
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.