Budget Increases Tax Cut, Makes Streets Safer and Cleaner, Supports Essential Services
MANCHESTER – In a strong measure for the taxpayers of Manchester, the Board of Alderman, led by its Democratic majority, passed their own budget Tuesday. The new Democratic budget triples the tax cut proposed by Mayor Frank Guinta, provides additional funding for making our city safer and cleaner, as well as makes more funds available for education.
The budget draws approximately $3.5 million from the city's capital investment fund. This money, which hasn't been touched since the fund's creation, represents only a portion of the fund's value. By accessing these resources, the city will be able to increase monies for services and infrastructure and offer a more generous tax cut for Manchester taxpayers.
"It's about putting something back in the taxpayer's pocket," said Alderman Mike Lopez. "We've been able to prevent unfortunate cuts in city staff and resources, while tripling the mayor's tax cut. The mayor seems to believe that the budget battle is always an either or proposition: services or reduction taxes. This budget proves that it does not have to be that way."The Tax Cut:
Frank Guinta proposed a cut of .53% in the property tax rate, amounting to a $.09 reduction per $1,000 in property valuation. The Board of Aldermen's budget includes a 1.6% cut or $.27 per $1,000 in valuation. For a home valued at $200,000, the budget championed by the Democrats on the Board of Aldermen provides a $54 tax cut, three times the $18 proposed by Guinta.Combating Crime:
Alderman Dan O'Neil commented, "We're experiencing a tragic rise in violent crime in this city. This budget says we're done nickel and dime-ing the approach to our city's crime problem. Instead of throwing pennies at the issue, we're committing to serious solutions that will hopefully return the results our community so desperately needs."
The Democratic budget makes greater strides in addressing the issue of crime in Manchester. Funding has been added to the police department to hire and equip five new police officers above and beyond the five already requested by Frank Guinta, bringing the count of new members of the force to 10. A new program, "Guns and Drugs" will bring agencies together to target crime, track and eliminate gang activities and seize weapons and drugs.
Funding Important Services:
"This is a budget that provides serious funding for our city's essential services," said Alderman Betsi DeVries. "The Aldermen have sent a message that we are to determined to make our city a safer, cleaner place to live. This is what a responsible budget looks like."
The budget will provide more funding for the Highway Department, preventing the elimination of jobs and maintaining important services such as snow removal and street cleaning. A new compliance officer will enforce new ordinances. Equipment, such as a street sweeper and street line-painter will be procured under the new budget.
The Parks Department will also benefit from the budget. The new funds will prevent 13 additional layoffs, the closure of at least one of Manchester's swimming areas and disruption of youth recreation and sports activities.
Manchester City Library will have the money necessary to hire a security officer for the West Side branch, which has been considering closing its doors due to security concerns.
Commitment to Education:
Part of the Democratic budget allows for the school department to access up to 80% of its health fund. $1.5 million in unused money for healthcare expenses can now be included as part of the school department's overall budget. The budget allocates the $147.3 million for school spending Frank Guinta proposed, but these new resources may be spent as the School Board sees fit.