Old Lyme Proposes Smaller Budget, Small Hike to Mill Rate

OLD LYME — At Monday’s public hearing for the 2021-22 budget, the first selectman’s proposed budget included a decrease in funding requests that was offset by a decrease in revenues and other factors, resulting in a proposed mill rate increase from 23.20 to 23.30 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the coming fiscal year. 

David Kelsey, chair of the Board of Finance, presented the preliminary budget, which will go to a public vote on May 17. 

In his presentation, Kelsey gave the following examples of how the increased mill rate could affect homeowners’ property taxes:

HouseAppraised ValueAssessed Value 70 %FY 2021
Mill rate 23.20
FY 2022 Mill rate 23.30
Example #1$347,200$243,000$5,638$5,662
Example #2$540,200$378,100$8,772$8,810
Example #3$1,254,500$878,000$20,370$20,457

The total budget request for 2021-22 was $38.2 million, or about $600,000 less than the 2020-21 budget of $38.8 million — a decrease of 1.52 percent. 

Kelsey said that capital outlays decreased from $1.4 million in 2020-21 to $460,150 in 2021-22, a decrease of $936,000. “That’s a very significant part of the reduction in the overall requirements of the budget,” he commented. 

In 2020-21, the Old Lyme share of the Region 18 School District budget was $27.6 million, which will decrease to $27 million in 2022. “That’s also significantly helped us in terms of the ability to reduce the need of taxes and expenditures this year,” siad Kelsey.

Local revenues decreased by $141,000, or 12.4 percent, which was primarily driven by $133,000 in decreased interest on investments, which Kelsey said was “the result of the “lower interest rate environment that we found ourselves in.” 

The budget included a $636,400 increase in capital project funds, including $300,000 in road improvements, $233,0000 for Parks and Recreation facility and equipment, $63,000 for public works vehicles, and $53,000 in Information Technology.

The budget included $20,000 for Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, which had received $1,000 in previous years. “They are seeking grants and this is where it’s important to show that their community is behind them with a financial commitment,” Kelsey said. 

Kelsey said some of the potential and unknown expenses could include shared costs of the Sound View sewer project and the renovation or expansion of the senior center. 

COVID-19 stimulus cash may help fund the town or the schools, but the amount is as yet undetermined.

“This has been a little bit of a fluid budget process personally, given historic experience, because of the COVID-related items and not knowing what might be reimbursed and there are a number of considerations at the national level that may or may not come to fruition and if they do, they may have benefits for the town itself,” Kelsey said. 

Dave Kelsey is co-founder and a funder of CT Examiner. He played no role in reporting (or choosing to report) this story

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