August 4, 2020

Old Lyme Board of Finance Approves $38.8 Million Budget for 2020-21, Mill Rate Up 0.79 Mills

OLD LYME — On Monday evening, the Old Lyme Board of Finance unanimously approved the proposed $38,805,674 town budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting was held virtually using a WebEx platform with members of the boards of finance and selectmen, and also several members of the public and press participating.

This year in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont in Executive Order 7I waived the requirement for towns and school districts to vote on budgets by “any in-person budget adoption requirements,” including town meetings or referenda. The board of finance was therefore able to approve the budget with a vote of their members rather than hold the traditional town meeting at which the public votes on the budget.

Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell gave a Powerpoint presentation of the budget highlighting areas of significant change in both revenues and expenditures. He noted the budget was marginally lower than the one presented at the April public hearing due to Lyme-Old Lyme Schools reducing their total budget to $34.7 million at their final presentation. Based on the respective student population percentage  in each town, Old Lyme pays $27.7 million of the LOL Schools’ budget with the Town of Lyme paying the remainder.

Stating that although the proposed mill rate for the 2020-21 fiscal year of 23.2 represented an increase over the current year’s mill rate of 22.41, Russell noted that the town would draw $800,000 from its surplus to prevent a higher increase. He pointed out that although the town’s budget has decreased slightly this year over last year, the grand list has fallen significantly due to the recent revaluation.

There were no questions asked about the budget during public comment but Russell said he had a received a question by email from a resident of Stonewood, who wanted to know how the board might deal with the financial stress on households caused by the pandemic, which, in turn, could affect their ability to pay their property taxes.

Russell responded that the budget had been developed for the most part before the pandemic struck but the board had subsequently “picked some capital items out” of the budget, but equally they “don’t want them to pile up.” He said the board would be watching the rate at which property taxes are paid and “if we have to make modifications during the budget year, then we’ll do that.”

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold reminded residents that the board had agreed to a low interest rate of 3%  as proposed in an Executive Order by Gov. Lamont on delinquent property taxes from August through October. He noted though that the interest rate “snaps back to 18%” at the end of October.

Read a detailed report on the meeting by Mary Biekert and published in ‘The Day’ May 19, at this link.

 

 

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