The Branford Board of Finance set the towns mill rate at 29.07, slightly lower than expected after the Representative Town Meeting passed the budget last week.
The new mill rate represents an increase over the current year of .43 mills, or a mill rate increase of 1.5%. The new number was established after some revenue adjustments by the Finance department.
Branford’s mill rate remains one of the lowest in the region. With new budgets passed this year, Guilford will see a mill rate at 32.03, North Branford 32.91, and East Haven 32.45.
Also to be factored when comparing to neighboring towns are services provided, such as sewers and trash collection, items Branford provides but not all surrounding towns do.
It is also of interest to look at how mill rate increases have compared to neighboring towns over time.
For the 2013 fiscal year, Branford had a 24.95 mill rate, while Guilford was much lower at 22.36. In the last 6 years, there has been a significant reversal, with Branford coming in at 29.07 while Guilford is now almost 3 mills higher, at 32.03.
But Branford continues to face an issue most of Connecticut does; a lack of increase in property value. According to data provided by the state of CT, Branford’s residential equalized grand list in 2011 was 2,605,391,630.
That same number in the 2016 grand list, the last we have statewide data on, was actually slightly lower, coming in at 2,600,298,990.
Residential values, as a percentage of the overall tax base in Branford, did decrease, from 70% to 67%, but may be due to stagnation in residential property values as opposed to increases in economic development or commercial property.
So while Branford's ability to keep mill rates lower than surrounding towns and show slower increases to the rate overall is impressive, all of the shoreline, and CT in general, would benefit greatly from an uptick in property values which have struggled to bonce back in a significant way since the 2009 economic crash.