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City of New Haven puts positive spin on budget cuts

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NEW HAVEN – The state’s budget crisis has trickled down to municipalities, but New Haven appears to be making the best of it.

Last week, Mayor Toni N. Harp,D-New Haven, learned her city could expect $8 million less in state aid than it had been promised in February. Tuesday morning, the news was not quite as grim.

“In round numbers, this is a $4.6 million gap to bridge due to changes in state support,” said Harp, who added that the city’s representatives in the General Assembly are to be commended for helping to restore some of the funding.

Some of the aid restored is a result of the state's revised motor vehicle property tax plan, which will allow the city to drop car taxes about 10 percent for the coming fiscal year. Meanwhile, Harp says personal property and real estate taxes remain flat for a second consecutive year.

She also says the city is reigning in spending, in part, by withdrawing a request for 18 new city positions, including school crossing guards and library aides. And, Harp is also suggesting reducing the proposed $5 million budget increase for New Haven Public Schools by $565,000.

“I know that our Board of Education is happy that we didn't just flat fund them,” said Harp, who noted that schools received a $3 million budget bump up last year.

Other relief will come through a state program that reimburses municipalities for any properties that are not taxable.

“You've got a remember that we are a city of 18.75 square miles, half of which is non-taxable,” said Harp.

In recent years, New Haven's has been reimbursed by the state for just of 30 percent of that lost income. For fiscal year 2017, that number is expected to climb to approximately 40 percent.

Another anticipated positive for the city: building permits are projected to generate roughly $500,000 over the next year, which would be the most in the state.