MERIDEN — The few residents who spoke at a hearing on the city’s draft spending plan for the next fiscal year seemed to agree on one thing: The proposal doesn’t offer taxpayer relief.
The public hearing on the proposed $208.4 million budget Thursday night at Lincoln Middle School came as many residents’ appeals about their reassessed properties have yet to be heard by the Board of Assessment Appeals. The duration of the hearing itself was approximately 20 minutes. It was chaired by the city council and the mayor.
A schedule of town meetings showed the council had several special meetings scheduled to hear ratepayer appeals.
The budget proposal, if passed by city council next month, would reduce the city’s mill rate to 32.88 mills per $1,000. The current tax rate is 40.86 thousandths. Overall budget proposal would increase current spending by more than $5.6 million
Resident Michael Rajewski, the first of five people to address the council, said the proposed mill rate was too high given the rise in assessed values of many properties after the reassessment.
Rajewski and other speakers criticized the process residents had to follow to appeal reassessments of their properties. He suggested the city use a portion of its federal COVID-19 relief funds for taxpayer relief.
Sean McDonald, who followed Rajewski, said the reassessments could have been postponed.
“You’ve postponed meetings because of COVID,” McDonald said. “You postponed everything because of COVID.”
McDonald said landlords will have to raise rents, forcing tenants out of their homes.
“…I don’t understand why you guys aren’t as worried as the people of Meriden are,” McDonald said. “…The people of this town are overwhelmed.”
Dan Zaborowski, a fixture at council meetings, questioned the 5:30 p.m. start time for the public hearing. He said 90% of residents were either going to work or still working.
“Why couldn’t it be at 6:30 p.m.?” He asked.
Zaborowski criticized elements of the budget request, including water and sewer increases and wage increases, which he called “ridiculous.”
Anthony Pelligrino told council that based on revaluations of properties he owns, he will be forced to raise rents for his tenants.
Elain Cariati, who ran for mayor last fall, asked council to consider the impact of the budget proposal on seniors and middle-class residents.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to put them out of business,” she said. “…The budget should be carefully considered. I hope, Mr. Mayor, that you will use your right of veto. It’s time to give back to the community. »