Taxes and jobs are key issues on the minds of voters in Colchester CT.
With a current mil rate of 25.8 for 2011-2012 slated to increase to 29.63 mils for 2012-2013, town officials proposed a propertyt tax hike of almost 4 mils, a 15% mil rate increase.
The basis for this hike was that property values have decreased; but, vehicle values and personal property values -- a significant part of Colchester CT's $1+ billion Grand List -- have not. A near 30 mil rate leaves businesses and homeowners with vehicles facing significant tax increases that will prevent job creation in the private sector. Even those whose property values declined can see tax increases on top of reduced home equity.
It makes no sense. It is not a benefit to residents or taxpayers to increase property taxes in light of declining home values and increased costs of motor vehicles.
Despite pleas by various taxpayers not to "play the emotional card," the town put forth cuts in ridiculously small amounts such as a $3000 cut in the social services for managing the food bank. "With a $51 million budget, cutting the food bank by $3000 is absurd," said Joyce Maine, one of the voters who oppose the budget. This far, the town has only suggested $600,000 in reduced spending in the proposed $51 million in spending, while the increased spending obver last year is significant. With bonding, the town was seeking $6 million more over last year.
People would not need the food bank in such increasing numbers if they were not losing their jobs daily. When you over tax people who create jobs, they invest their assets in less volatile sectors and lay people off. Property taxes above 19 are not appealing to employers. With Colchester nearing 30, it is ridiculous to think anyone would come here to start a business that has lots of equipment such as medical or advanced manufacturing, yet that is what our community needs most in terms of jobs.
Special Meetings have been called for Tuesday May 15th and Wednesday May 16th. The Board of Finance is allowing citizens to comment before and after its own discussions each evening. By Thursday, they plan to send a revised Budget to the Board of Selectman and then on to the Town Meeting and new Referendum. In the meanwhile, town officials stated they believe taxpapers "do not understand revaluation." With a local population with more computers per capita and a higher concentration of technical and engineering personnel from major companies in the region who live in Colchester,
it is a specious argument.
Colchester is a bedroom community with over 20% of its population who regularly votes in local referenda. Many of those people hold advanced degrees.