With a hefty increase in the town’s grand list, Simsbury Town Manager Maria Capriola is proposing a budget that carries less than a half-percent tax increase.
Capriola’s $105.4 million budget would maintain existing services while raising taxes by just $36 a year on the average home in town, she said Monday.
“Despite our current pandemic environment, local revenues have remained stable and strong with the exception of interest income,” she told the board of selectmen in a memo.
The real estate market is hot, so her plan anticipates more revenue from municipal conveyance taxes and land recording fees.
And with people staying home more, residents are building home offices and starting residential remodeling projects, she said. That means building permit revenues will be up, too.
But the biggest boost for the town is the 2.94% increase in the tax base. That will generate $2.7 million in new revenue next year.
“Real estate increased by 1.6%, primarily from apartment construction and the new Big Y,” she wrote. “Personal property increased by 21.8%, largely due to the Tobacco Valley Solar project and the Curaleaf expansion.”
The value of motor vehicles in town shot up by 7.2%, a trend that took place in most communities this year because used car prices rose in the face of declining new car production.
Capriola is proposing Simsbury spending 2.9% more in 2021-22 than in the current year. That would mostly maintain services by covering pay raises, benefit increases and other contractual costs.
School spending would climb by 2.1%, reaching $74.4 million. Education accounts for slightly more than 70% of all the town’s budget.
Municipal services like public works, public safety, recreation and general government would get 2.49% more under her plan.
By far the fastest-rising part of the budget is repaying bond debt: That will cost nearly $6.3 million next year, up by 14.6% from this year.
Capriola noted a number of restorations and initiatives that aren’t in her proposal, and suggested selectmen consider them if money is available. The list includes de-escalation training for police along with a parks maintenance technician, additional funding for children’s library materials and temporary staffing for the assessor’s office.
If it’s approved unchanged, her proposal would put the tax rate at 37.26 mills. That would be up from the current 37.09, but still less than the rate two years ago.
A home valued at $306,000 — and assessed at $210,000 — currently is taxed $7,937. That would increase to $7,973 under her plan.
Selectmen will conduct reviews before endorsing a budget plan March 8. They’ll send it to the finance board for additional review before a hearing in April and a townwide referendum on May 18.