The Berlin Town Council voted 3-2 along party lines to move forward a budget of $76,784,480 to the Public Hearing April 9 at McGee School and then to a town-wide referendum on April 30.
With this budget, the mill rate will climb from 25.19 to 28.91 but Mayor Adam Salina said a closer look at the mill rate increase is needed.
"In talking to our Assessor, if we just kept everything the same and didn't add anything to the budget, the mill rate would have had to go up to 27.94 with the loss of tax revenue because of revaluation this year," Salina said at the Town Council meeting Tuesday night. "So the increase is really from 27.94 to 28.91 or an increase in the mill rate of .97."
Budget Committee Chairman Bill Rasmussen, in his first year in this role, said the process is difficult.
"The budget process is complicated," Rasmussen said. "We had revaluation to deal with this year and that is something you don't have to deal with every year so that made it even more complicated. We are not charged with coming up with the perfect number or perfect increase or decrease. We try to process the things that are important to the residents of Berlin. We were able to come up with a strong budget that does not cut the services that are important to our residents.
"I am hoping that we get a large turnout at the Public Hearing on April 9 so that we can hear from the people what they think. And more importantly that people to get out to vote on April 30 at the referendum."
Salina said that property values dropped by an average of 10 percent and the grand list fell by more than eight percent.
Councilor Rachel Rochette said she is proud of the budget and supports it.
"I want to thank Bill Rasmussen for all his work on this budget as well as Denise McNair and Jim Wren and the rest of the town staff," Rochette said. "I think there was a lot of good dialogue back and forth in the budget committee meetings from all parties. Starting where we did, we came up with a good budget that we can support and does not cut the services we are used to."
The budget committee cut more than $1 million from the budget submitted by Town Manager Denise McNair, including more than $700,000 from the Board of Education budget. The cut will not affect Full Day Kindergarten going forward.
Republicans David Evans and Eric Buhrendorf voted no on moving the budget ahead saying that the Town Council should cut more. Evans mentioned that there were cuts of $30,000 he mentioned at budget committee meetings that were not taken out.