Woodbridge’s finance board, at its May 19 meeting, set a mill rate of 43.77 for real and personal property for the year beginning July 1, to pay a package of expenses of 53,824 $129. The budget includes a 5.51% increase for the Woodbridge Board of Education, a 5.66% increase for the Amity Board of Education, and a 2.42% increase in city spending.
Meanwhile, the state legislature has capped the statewide motor vehicle tax per mile rate at 32.46 in an effort to equalize charges among different municipalities. He promised cities with higher per-mille rates a transition grant to make up for lost revenue. Woodbridge will receive $1 million to at least partially offset the $1.3 million difference. Due to this shortfall, the new rate per thousand is a bit higher than what was first published (43.77 instead of 43.49)
For an average home valued at $287,000, the 43.77 mill rate would result in higher property taxes but lower motor vehicle taxes, said city chief financial officer Anthony Genovese. He calculated the total tax burden to be about $13,489 for property and motor vehicle taxes combined.
The operating budget also includes just over $1 million in capital projects, including, among other projects, funds for the renovation of the former Boy Scout Hall in Center Block ($11,000); folding chair replacement ($5,000); also $130,000 for distribution renovations and $35,000 for the removal of an underground oil tank; for the fire department $175,528 for the replacement of engine 3; $19,000 for a thermal camera; $50,000 for network upgrades at the police station; $46,124 for a sidewalk snowplow; $331,000 for road construction/paving (combined with LOCIP funds and additional capital reserve funds, the city plans to spend a total of $680,000 on road construction).
During the city’s annual meeting, head coach Beth Heller also pointed out that the city had received more than $3 million in grants for long-planned projects. In particular, she mentioned $425,000 in grants for the renovation of the Senior Center; $2 million in state bonding to convert the former fire hall into a community center; and $600,000 to build a sidewalk between the high school and downtown and repair the walkway around the library lawn.
These projects “go a long way” in implementing the downtown beautification plan, she said. Other projects that remain to be addressed are additional outdoor seating, updated signage, and improvements to the police department quarters and the rest of the central building.
She said the city had received $2.3 million through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the city had yet to determine where those funds would be best spent. She named five projects that were put forward, namely improvements to the business district, additional ventilation to the Center Building; a pavilion on the library lawn for outdoor programming; improvements to aging playgrounds and an irrigation system for ball diamonds.
Heller said that once the Board of Selectmen adopts a strategic plan, it will consider whether any of the suggested projects can be done with ARPA funds, and at that point will ask the public for comment.
Strategic plan: At the annual meeting, selectors Sheila McCreven and David Vogel jointly presented a draft strategic plan that a subcommittee of the Selectors’ Council had been working on, together with City Chief Financial Officer Anthony Genovese and the administrative assistant Betsy Yagla. The plan identifies the “most important and pressing issues facing the city in the years ahead,” focusing on the 2022-23 fiscal year.
At the top of the list is the task of “ensuring the financial stability of the municipality”, declared David Vogel. “It’s our top priority.” Doing so will require new ideas to diversify the Big List, finding ways to support local businesses and attract new ones. He also said the city needs to do a better job of educating ratepayers about city finances.
Determining the future of the former Woodbridge Country Club property was also part of this strategic plan, but prioritized within the objective of “investing in and maintaining infrastructure and facilities”. Speakers did not suggest how this should be accomplished.
The plan also includes renovations to municipal buildings and grounds, including the senior center and the old fire station. He also suggested initiating a discussion regarding renovations to the center building, which would include the police station; and think of the City Hall building, which is over 100 years old and has its own needs.
Another category addressed by the plan is how to “improve quality of life” – inviting the city to think about the “services and resources that enable people to thrive” and to explore potential efficiencies, such as between Department of Social Services, City Library, Recreation Department, etc. The plan prompts the city to think about ways to improve parks and playgrounds; creating pathways to allow residents to safely enjoy the outdoors (such as walking and cycling); and coordinate community events for people to come together and opportunities to embrace diversity.
McCreven encouraged those present to comment on these points. “We look forward to hearing from everyone,” she said.
Former first manager Amey Marrella took to the podium and encouraged City leaders to get a lot more feedback from City residents. “For at least 21 years as a first coach, the goal of the city has been to diversify the Big List,” she said. “The big question is how? »
“You need to have more opportunities and an invitation to public discussion,” she said. “You may have an opportunity for SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, a tool often used to build a business strategy.” If you build it (with audience input), you might better understand how to actually achieve these goals,” she said.
Bob McSherry, who moved to Woodbridge eight years ago from Bethany, noted that homes in his neighborhood have been flipped many times since he moved here. “What makes Bethany special is that the elders are still there because they can afford to stay there,” he said.
This prompted Dr. Alan Davidson to speak out for his city. “I’m 85 and still here,” he said. “And I love this city.”
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent