NEWINGTON – Town officials are preparing for cutbacks in case tax revenue does not come through over the next 12 months.
Newington Town Manager Keith Chapman has asked all department heads to consider how they might reduce spending by 30 percent if COVID-19 continues its reign.
“If COVID sticks around for a year I’m concerned that people will be out of work and incapable of paying the taxes we depend on for our revenue,” Chapman explained. “I’d rather have something on the shelf that’s been prepared and reviewed that we can put into place if this continues. I would not be doing my job if we were not prepared to address that possibility.”
The specific reduction request is based on the general prediction that revenue could drop by 30 percent, if approximately one in three property owners can’t pay their taxes.
Since different departments are encountering unique challenges through this pandemic, Chapman is giving staff the opportunity to decide where cuts could potentially be made. Human Services has seen an increased need for assistance, for example, while Parks and Recreation will likely net savings with the cancellation of summer programs and events.
The Newington Town Council is continuing deliberations on the Town and Schools’ 2020-21 Budget into early May, per Governor Ned Lamont’s executive order allowing municipalities an extension. A revised budget schedule has the final public hearing on the council’s tentative budget set for next Tuesday May 5 on Zoom Webinar. The deadline for the final budget to be adopted and the new mill rate, set, is May 19.
These “backup budgets” will only go into effect if needed, to the extent needed, according to the town manager.
“If the revenue starts diminishing we’re going to have to implement these,” he said. “I’m just trying to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Mayor Beth DelBuono is supportive of this tactic, which she called, “proactive.”
Councilors have afforded residents, business owners and taxpayers an extra 90 days to pay their July 2020 tax bills, which are now due by Oct. 1, 2020, in accordance with the state’s newly-adopted Tax Deferment Program. Additionally, the town has signed up for the state’s Low Interest Rate Program, allowing delinquent taxpayers a lower interest rate of .25% per month on late payments, effective for 90 days after their due date.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org