2 West Haven fire districts will pay higher taxes
Mark Zaretsky , Register Staff 05/19/2004
WEST HAVEN — Taxpayers in two of West Haven’s three independent fire districts — the Center district and the West Shore — will pay more for fire service next year than they do now, with only the Allingtown Fire District holding the line.

In fact, Allingtown, despite having the smallest tax base of the three districts and a history of difficulty in making ends meet, will drop its tax rate by 0.35 mills, to an even 10 mills, Allingtown Board of Fire Commissioners Chairman Louis Esposito Jr. said.

The drop slightly cushions the shock of a city tax rate that will go up July 1 by 2.56 mills, to 39.31 mills.

Each mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value.

In West Haven, the fire district tax rates are combined with the city tax rate to determine how much taxpayers pay when their bills arrive in the mail.

Part of the reason for the drop in Allingtown was because the city collected Allingtown taxes at a 95 percent rate that was higher than the 92 percent officials had anticipated, said Esposito, who was named to serve another two-year term at the district’s annual meeting last week after no one opposed his nomination.

He also cited "prudent management." Residents and taxpayers approved a $4 million budget for the coming 2004-2005 fiscal year, Esposito said.

Things were a little more difficult this year in the other two districts, which also held their annual meetings last week.

On the West Shore, the tax rate will rise by nearly two mills — 1.9. actually — from 7.5 mills to 9.4 mills, said Fire Chief William Donegan. West Shore voters and taxpayers approved a $6.57 million budget, he said.

Donegan said the tax increase resulted from continued increases in cost of the West Shore Fire Department’s Blue Cross health plan, as well as the need to increase pension contributions to address a gaping shortfall in the pension fund account that had grown over the years to $20 million.

The West Shore district recently had an actuarial study done and found that it had just over $2 million in the account, Donegan said. In the coming year’s budget, the commissioners increased the district’s contribution from $220,000 to $40,000, he said.

The Center district, officially known as the First Fire Taxation District, raised its tax rate by 0.6 mills, to 11.29 mills, said Chief William S. Johnson of the district’s West Haven Fire Department. Residents and taxpayers approved a $9.39 million budget that is $132,659 more than the current budget, he said.

Johnson said he thought it was "a real credit to the commissioners" that Center district taxes didn’t rise more, given that there was an $11.19 million drop in the district’s grand list of taxable property.

Residents and taxpayers also chose Joseph Callahan to be the new fire board member, replacing longtime commissioner Steven Dargan, who did not seek another term. Callahan ran unopposed, Johnson said.

When the new fire tax rates are combined with the city’s new 39.31 mill rate, taxpayers in the West Shore district will find themselves paying 48.71 mills, taxpayers in Allingtown will find themselves paying 49.31 mills and taxpayers in the Center district will find themselves paying 50.6 mills.


Mark Zaretsky can be reached at mzaretsky@nhregister.comor 789-5722.


©New Haven Register 2004

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