Mayor Michael Pavia unveiled Thursday his $495.8 million operating budget twice, once to the media in the late afternoon, and later Thursday evening to the Board of Finance.
The proposed budget rings in at a $15.9 million increase over the $479.8 million budget passed for the 2012-13 fiscal year. That represents a 3.33-percent total budget submission increase, and a 4.81-percent gross tax levy increase. He also unveiled projected budgets for 2014-15 and 2015-16, which add another $23.8 million and $20.2 million year over year, respectively.
Taking into account a $17.8 million increase in tax revenue and a $5.4 billion loss in Grand List property values, the increases currently represent a Mill Rate jump from 17.79 to 24.03. What that means to Stamford citizens in terms of real dollars is yet to be determined, as Stamford officials didn't want to pin down a monetary rate increase until percentages were finalized.
The budget was Pavia's largest jump in his time as mayor. When asked what contributing factors caused him to now take the leap for a considerable increase when he'd often sought to minimize financial impact of the budget, he said simply there was nothing left to do.
"Regarding any additional cuts, I had no where else to go," Pavia said. "You saw...how little discretion I had in the big cost centers. With the exception of public safety, just about everything else went down in the areas of the budget that I control. The point is, other than actually eliminating jobs, there was no where else to go."
As far as the proposed budget presentation is concerned, a "lion's share," as it was often referred, of the budget requested is heading to education. The Board of Education's $245.9 million proposed budget, a 3.86-percent, $9 million increase from last year, makes up a huge chunk of the funding.
Officials said those increases account for approximately 44-percent of the overall Operating Budget increase. The operating budget also had to account for a $2.1 million loss in state funding.
One bonus of the increased budget: July 4th Fireworks! Pavia said, with some off-setting contributions from an unnamed private donor, the city would be able to host and provide about half the funding for the missing festivities.
Pavia said, overall, the process was something he liked doing as it allowed him to give back to the residents of Stamford.
"I enjoy this," Pavia said. "I think these kinds of things represent a culmination of the staff and my administration and my efforts and everyone else to bring what we feel is a good product, a finished product, one that had a great deal of thought behind it and a high level of professionalism in terms of how we were able to come to the conclusions that we did."