Harp Proposes 3.8% Tax Hike; Alders Wary

Thomas MacMillan PhotoAs she unveiled a proposed $511 million budget, Mayor Toni Harp asked New Haveners to pay more taxes, so the city can move from short-term fixes to a “sustainable financial future.”

Harp (pictured) made her comments Friday morning in City Hall as she introduced her proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The $510,795,912 general fund budget represents a 2.7 percent increase over last year’s $497.5 million budget. Click here to see it.

As predicted, the budget includes a proposed property tax increase of 1.56 mills, which means taxpayers would pay $1.56 more annually for each $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. The increase would bring the mill rate up to 42.36.

Harp said the mill rate increase would mean homeowners would pay $170 more per year for a house assessed at $150,000.

The budget now moves to the Board of Alders, where the Finance Committee will hold a series of public hearings and have the opportunity to make changes before a final budget vote by the full board.

Alders are expected to try to reduce or eliminate Harp’s proposed tax hike.

“Tax increases should be the last resort,” said Board of Alders President Jorge Perez. He declined to comment further on the budget until he has a chance to look at it. “We haven’t even received the budget.”

Alder Mike Stratton, who represents Prospect Hill and Newhallville, blasted Harp’s proposed budget as “completely irresponsible” and criticized the mayor for not asking for more money from the state.

“It’s truly nauseating,” he said.

Budget Highlights

Schools: Harp budgeted $178.7 million for New Haven schools, most of which is made up of state money. The proposed budget would increase the city’s portion—$18.3 million in the current year’s budget—by $1.5 million, significantly less than the $5.3 million increase that the Board of Ed requested.

Revenue Changes: The mayor’s budget predicts the city will bring in $11.1 million more in taxes in the next fiscal year than the current, and receive $4.8 million more from the state. Those increases would be offset slightly by a projected $1 million decrease to building permit revenue and a $1.8 million decrease to “other taxes, assessments and PILOTs,” or payments in lieu of taxes. 

Expenditure Changes: On the expenditure side, the city would spend more on debt service (a $3.6 million increase), salaries ($2.6 million), education ($1.5 million), fund balance replenishment ($2 million), medical benefits and pension increases ($3.7 million total).  The budget would cut $1.8 million, or 25 percent, from police and fire overtime spending.

The biggest departmental expenditure change—in percentage terms—would be in the mayor’s office, where the allocation would rise from about $900,000 to $1.3 million, an increase of nearly 50 percent. That’s partly because of six new positions the mayor wants to create in her office. (See below.)

In percentage terms, Youth Services and the Equal Opportunities Commission would also see large increases, of 40 and 55 percent, respectively.

Assumptions: Harp’s proposal assumes the state legislature will increased funding to New Haven by $2 million over the governor’s proposed budget and that payment in lieu of taxes from Yale-New Haven Hospital would drop by $781,000.

Capital Projects: The capital budget, which isn’t part of the $510 million general fund budget, would be $44.4 million, including
• $6 million for development of the former Coliseum site.
• $3.8 million for new public works trucks.
• $2.4 million for information technology upgrades.
• $2.9 million for improvements to Tweed airport.
• $1.4 million for the Shubert Theater.
• $5.7 million for education.
• $4.1 million for the redevelopment of the Farnam Courts public-housing development.

Positions Created, Eliminated: The budget includes a net increase of six city staff positions. Six positions—all currently vacant—would be eliminated and 12 and a half created. The eliminated positions include two from the finance department, a police department records clerk, a tree trimmer, a public works project manager, and an epidemiologist in the health department.

The new positions include:
Six in the mayor’s office—a new grant-writing department, a legislative director, and a bilingual receptionist.
• An assistant city/town clerk.
• A half-time employee in the corporation counsel office would go to full time.
• A new accounts payable position in the finance department.
• Two new senior-center directors (funded at $1 pending grant funding).
• A food system policy director and a food system policy analyst (funded at $1 pending grant funding).

President Perez predicted that the creation of new positions in the mayor’s office will prove to be “a hard sell” for the Board of Alders.

5-Year Plan: The budget includes a new “Five-Year Financial Plan” that would be funded by $2 million in fiscal year 2014-15. Of that money, $1 million would go toward rebuilding the general fund balance, $500,000 toward eliminating the deficit in the city’s medical self-insurance, and $500,000 toward creating a “pay as you go” capital projects fund. City budget director Joe Clerkin called the “pay as you go” fund an effort to pay for small capital projects with dollars on hand, rather than bonding for them.

Clerkin said the Five-Year Plan is part of an effort to build more long-term thinking into the budget. He called the plan a “work in progress” intended to start conversations about multi-year budget planning.

“The thought here was we’ve got to start to plan out,” Clerkin said. “You have to have a plan.”

“A Responsible Approach”

When she took office in January, Harp said, she found the city had been budgeting only for the immediate future, without an eye to sustainable fiscal planning. “We were surprised to learn about a laundry list of short-term solutions to mask longer-term difficulties.”

(Click here to read her full remarks.)

“The challenges we face – together – include a General Fund balance that is $600,000 in the red, the complete absence of a rainy day fund, and last year’s reduced credit rating to BBB+,” Harp said. “These three factors not only paint a dreary picture in terms of cash on hand, they make it more expensive for the city to conduct its business.”

‘Furthermore, the city has more than a half-billion dollars in unfunded pension liabilities, a self-insurance deficit of nearly $12 million, and aging facilities and rolling stock that need repair, maintenance, and replacement.”

Harp said her budget offers “a responsible approach to the current financial moment” while charting a responsible course for the future.

Because of decisions made in the past, the city faces a large number of fixed costs, which are rising, Harp said. Those include debt service, pension and medical benefits, and contractual salary increases.

Clerkin (pictured) said three-quarters of the $13 million increase to the budget is due to debt service, salaries, medical benefits and pensions. The last quarter is largely the increase to Board of Ed funding and the $2 million allocated for fund balance replenishment.

Clerkin said the budget has a high degree of “structural soundness.” The budget doesn’t rely on one-time revenues, like the sale of city property. Nor does it rely on potentially devastating long-term deals like parking meter monetization.

“Those things aren’t presented here, which is good,” Clerkin said.

New city Controller Daryl Jones (pictured) said the city needs to move away from always being in “crisis management” and engage instead in “strategic planning.” He praised the budget’s investment in information technology. Every $5 invested there results in $10 of savings down the road, he said.

Asked how she would convince a New Haven property owner to support the proposed tax hike, Harp said that while the city gets complaints every day about city services, it has fewer employees and older equipment than it did 20 years ago. Also, Harp said, “Our mill rate is lower than other towns our size.”

“We’ve got to be realistic” about what the city needs, she said.

New Haven’s mill rate is 40.80. (That’s $40.80 per $1,000 of assessed property value.) New Haven’s rate is lower than Bridgeport’s (41.86), Hartford’s (74.29), and Waterbury’s (56.98), but higher than in surrounding suburbs, such as West Haven (31.25), East Haven (30.95), Woodbridge (34.14) and North Haven (28.1).

“Completely Irresponsible”

Alder Stratton (pictured) lambasted the mayor’s budget proposal and listed a number of steps the city should take to avoid raising taxes.

“Raising taxes is the worst thing the mayor can do for job growth, business growth, and resident attractions and retention,” Stratton said. “And it is mind blowing that she would ask the governor for less money in PILOT than she needed to balance the budget. She apparently doesn’t want to offend governor Malloy by making such an ask but has no qualms asking taxpayers.”

Stratton criticized the fact that Harp is proposing a 25 percent cut to police and fire overtime while seeking an increase of nearly 50 percent to the mayor’s office budget.

“There is no reform at all in the budget. No combining of departments. No elimination of things we cannot afford,” Stratton said.

Stratton suggested asking the state for more money and eliminating departments that aren’t necessary. “The finance department is bloated,” he said. He said the city should cut the finance department budget by $4 million, and privatize elderly services and the health department. He said the city should also eliminate the Youth Services Department and delegate its responsibilities to the police department and to local youth organizations.

“I would then cut 10 percent from every department except fire and police and public works,” Stratton said. “I would deny any additional funding for education including the ECS match. They have enough.”

Stratton said he’s opposed to any new positions in the mayor’s office and to the elimination of the tree trimmer position.

“If we did all of this, we should be able to cut taxes by 1/2 a mill thereby attracting the very jobs and resident wellbeing that [Harp] crows about,” Stratton said.

“Mayor Harp has demonstrated a degree of selfishness here which is a slap in the face of every resident,” he said. “Raising her own budget 49 percent and making no hard choices. It’s truly nauseating.”


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posted by: redditnewhaven on February 28, 2014  2:07pm

oh great more taxes thanks harp

posted by: TheMadcap on February 28, 2014  2:07pm

Mill rate in NH though is close to Hamden’s(theirs is 38 something I believe)

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on February 28, 2014  2:11pm

$170/year may not sound like a significant increase but Harp and her team have failed to convince us that it’s going toward something with broader utility than refurbing a community outreach center or bloating her administrative staff. More money for the schools? Sound great. But when do we start getting serious about that school system and realize that pumping more money into beautiful buildings means nothing unless you improve what’s going on inside of them?

posted by: HewNaven on February 28, 2014  2:12pm

Great. Now we get to hear all those whiny homeowners telling us an extra $170/year will cause financial ruin.

posted by: robn on February 28, 2014  2:30pm

Note to Mayor and BOA. Many people like me who WON’T be showing up to the mock hearings, hearings that will no doubt be crowded with AFSCME shills, we say NO to the tax increase. Sorry but you expended any good will in your first week when you hired a chauffer and created a redundant grant office to reward your campaign workers..

posted by: Esbey on February 28, 2014  2:37pm

What we need is new development that increases the Grand List and brings in more property tax revenue without increasing rates.  If all the proposed downtown building actually takes place, we will be in a better position.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on February 28, 2014  3:22pm

First many of the whiney home owners will just pass it down to the people that rent! So look forward to a rent increase. And just to get this straight many of those whiney home owners have seen increases year after year after year…so it is now just $170 it is $170 ontop of last year massive increase. That is a big difference than what you presented it as…and again…..no worrys the renters end up paying for it in the end so I am tired of fighting for people who are not realizing that it is really going to be the renter who suffers the most. NAH NAH Whaaa

I have gone to hearings after hearings and the people are NEVER listened to…they let us vent shave a few bucks off and do what they want anyway. New Haven is one of the least Democratic towns in the state. It is a nanny city.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 28, 2014  3:23pm

posted by: robn on February 28, 2014 1:30pm
Note to Mayor and BOA. Many people like me who WON’T be showing up to the mock hearings, hearings that will no doubt be crowded with AFSCME shills, we say NO to the tax increase. Sorry but you expended any good will in your first week when you hired a chauffer and created a redundant grant office to reward your campaign workers..

Here we go again.Show me How AFSCME shills are behind this.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on February 28, 2014  3:33pm

oh and one more thing…new haven discoverd a nifty little trick…I seen it with several developments….“affordable housing” We must a certain amount, I believe it is 10% as seen with 360 state….studios filled with “poor students” quality as affordable housing…watch the same thing happen at church street south…..slowly but surly this city is being gentrified…and tax increase add to that..because many homeowners are fighting to keep their rents affordable for family’s…but at some point the rents will get to high for the regular guys..and again the definition of affordable does include…studios for poor students.

So remember look at the bigger picture and think about how this effects the years to come.

ok sorry for crying and fighting for all the people. I guess it is time to roll over and let the “development” (gentrification) continue. Take those blinder off HewNaven

posted by: robn on February 28, 2014  3:39pm


Maybe its easy for you to be snide about a $170 tax increase, but for a house assessed at $150,000 the $170 is on top of $6,184 taxes they already pay. This is breaking the backs of working class, owners and renters alike (renters pay taxes through their rent).
The city should be focused on spending less by being more efficient and most importantly grand list growth with new development; not increased “revenue” by increasing taxes. The Harp administration was handed several parting development gifts by DeStefano/Murphy. What will Harp/Nemerson bring to the table?

posted by: robn on February 28, 2014  4:43pm


Here are 30,000 reasons why AFSCME is behind this.


posted by: Noteworthy on February 28, 2014  5:08pm

Shock and Awe No Notes:

1. Once again we find that Toni Harp is surprised. This time it’s over the state of the city budget. Where has she been?

2. Harp’s rationale for the tax increase is the same song she sang in Hartford - this is just a new venue. The words haven’t even changed. “Realistic, getting rid of gimmicks, less expensive than others” etc. - empty words to support a big tax hike.

3. The “results based budgeting” are more empty words - this is not a results based budget. If it is, we have the most productive, efficient city government in the nation. NOT.

4. Comparing New Haven’s mill rate to other cities our size is apples and oranges. She doesn’t know this or is she intentionally dishonest? Mill rates are driven by property values and budgets. There are wide differences.

5. I hate to say “I told you so.” But I told you so.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on February 28, 2014  5:42pm

What kind of house can you get in New Haven for only $150,000?

For a fairer example, lets consider a $250,000 home, assessed at $175,000.

2013 Tax Bill: $7,140.
2014 Tax Bill: $7,413.

Then just for kicks lets extrapolate:

2015 Tax Bill: $7,696
2016 Tax Bill: $7,990
2017 Tax Bill: $8,295

At what point does the very middle class family throw in the towel?

The problem is not year-over-year. The problem is a city budget that’s growing at 4-5% annually, against a stagnant economy in which individual’s incomes are not growing at a similar price. Ten years from now, will we be in a sustainable position. Or will we have tipped the cart?

posted by: ProUnion on February 28, 2014  5:45pm

New Haven is significantly short on Police Officers and New Haven was just rated the 2 most dangerous town in America. And Harp wants to cut police overtime?!?!?! Who’s going to cover all of the understaffed shifts? The city already has a skeleton shift on over nights. God help the city if something major happens on the overnight!!!

posted by: gamechanger on February 28, 2014  6:11pm

Residents of New Haven, do you understand the word hypocrite? The mayor states the city has outstanding delinquent taxes from residents and business owners dating back to 1998. Yet, if I recall correctly, it was the family business who were one of the main violators of not paying their taxes on time. Now a deal is struck and their outstanding taxes are paid, I’m sure without penalty fees for being late. Now she raises the Mill Rate on you.
Furthermore the former mayor Big John went so far as to have delinquent taxpayers vehicles booted or towed right out of personal driveways until the debts were paid. Well whatever happened to all that money which was collected? An Investigation needs to be done as to the past and present whereabouts of Your Money.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 28, 2014  6:12pm

posted by: robn on February 28, 2014 3:43pm


Here are 30,000 reasons why AFSCME is behind this.

Not true.Here are the reason.
Unions did not put us over $16,000,000,000,000 in debt. Bad decisions, pork barrel spending and greed from both parties did. Yes, there has been union corruption but it pales to the govornmnet corruption that’s bad enough to make the mafia blush in shame. So what does the govornment do? Blame the American worker!The political Mafia is the front (Emperor’s clothes) for all the rackets of Evil, the Punch and Judy show, It hides the Authoritarian system that masquerades as a Democracy. They promise Heaven but deliver Hell.The Lies start as soon as they write their manifestos.

Blame the Unions for Everything!


posted by: getyourfactstraight on February 28, 2014  6:25pm

This is not whining. This is concern that we once again are having an increase in taxes that we cannot afford and with no cost saving measures taken by this mayor. Adding positions! Yes, and creating a whole new department!
I hope I am not censored again because I feel so very strongly about this>HARP DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THIS BURDEN TO THE TAXPAYERS BECAUSE SHE HERSELF IS NOT A PROPERTY OWNER AND TAXPAYER! She lives in a house that maybe, at very best has been placed on some sort of tax budget plan and she isn’t held accountable. Just enjoys the luxury of living in the oversized obnoxious house. I hope all those who voted for her are happy!

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on February 28, 2014  6:26pm

Wow!  It is amazing to read the comments on this site.  It’s as though people often don’t pay attention to the body of the article or think critically about what has been said.  Perhaps everyone is just upset or trying to move off topic because what the Mayor proposes actually makes sense. 

As noted above, approximately 3/4 of the budget increase comes from allocations made under the DeStefano administration.  Mayor Harp has not had an opportunity to negotiate any contracts with city employees, thank John DeStefano for that.  Nor did she sign off on any long-term debt.  See DeStefano for that one too.  Nor was she involved with the pensions or medical costs.  Those were fixed items that any new mayor would have inherited.  Simply put, our taxes were going up.

Additionally, there is the school board’s request for an additional $5.3 million that she courageously said no to.  Mind you, this was a budget set by a Superintendent she did not have authority to get rid of because the school board was controlled by DeStefano’s appointees.  And they all wanted Mr. Harries, despite years of his and Dr. Mayo’s running a deficit and using debt service and bonding to pay for employees.

I don’t mind people being upset.  But the pitchforks and tar should be reserved for the responsible party (DeStefano and his administration) not the current Mayor who is merely addressing the problems she inherited.  Context is key.

posted by: TheMadcap on February 28, 2014  6:31pm

Oh the Huffpo article is ridiculous and is exactly why the FBI stopped making those lists years ago. NH was 3rd or 4th 2 years ago in the same kind of article, they’re using 2013 data, NH’s murder and shooting rate have dropped by over 1/3 in those 2 years. Am I supposed to really believe that all the other cities somehow had an even larger drop that we moved up? As the article points out, in NH’s specific case the increase in rape was part of the problem, and that’s partly to the expanded definition, and what’s not being said also Yale actually reporting the rapes that happen on its campus after the Feds sued the heck out of them the other year over this. Also the list takes into no other factors beyond numbers(this is another reason the FBI stopped doing this after the Census department complained over this). Flint, Bridgeport, Patterson,(and where the heck is Camden, it’s supposed to be cities under 200,000 which Camden is, Camden is by far the worst city out of all everyone) these are cities where the crime is bad basically everywhere. New Haven has like 80% of its violent crime concentrated in NewHallville, even the north side of The Hill only had one shooting all year long last year as reported by the NHI. East Shore, East Rock, Westville all have barely any crime, and Fair Haven and The Hill have pretty average crime rates for a city.

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on February 28, 2014  6:43pm

@ProUnion, the overtime debacle will be fixed by hiring more police officers that have a smaller salary and are under a different pension agreement.  Huge short and long-term savings for the people.

With regards to your concern New Haven is not the second most dangerous town in America.  It is the second most dangerous town in the United States with a total population under 200,000 (big difference).  More important, if you were to review the actual list, you would note that “there were still significant declines in the remaining categories of murder, robbery, and aggravated assault (-11.11 percent, -1.39 percent, and -16.45 percent, respectively).”  Not too shabby, even if the credit goes to DeStefano.

Now, Mayor Harp has aggravated the unions and the pro-Elicker backers, so she must actually be making progress.  This is a beautiful thing to see.

posted by: robn on February 28, 2014  6:45pm


Wrong. The data which you are so grossly misrepresenting comes from the FBI (link below). It records violent crime in US cities with a population over 100,000. If you look at the data correctly, you’ll see that New Haven ranks 253rd out of about 265 for violent crimes per capita.

In other words, you’re relatively safe in New Haven. Thanks law abiding citizens and NHPD!


posted by: robn on February 28, 2014  6:54pm


You seem to be missing the point. Mayor Harp may have waited until near the end of her campaign to actually read the budget (her words, not mine) but once she did, she should have known what she was in for. And anyone with any sense of what’s going on in New Haven knows that the “revenue” side of the equation (i.e. taxpayers) are paying outrageously hightaxes already.

Having the BOE highball their ask with a devastating increase (their words, not mine) doesn’t make the mayor a hero for lowering it to just a painfully high increase.

posted by: Esbey on February 28, 2014  7:23pm

Cedarhill Resident, if you are opposed to developments like 360 State and to “gentrification,” then you are in favor of tax increases and high rents. 

As for tax increases, city spending is likely to go up every year, for reasons of inflation if nothing else (you can’t give employees a zero-percent raise year after year.)  On the other side, property valuations are fixed for at least 5 years.  The only way to raise revenue in the meantime is to increase the grand list of taxable properties.  The new properties can pay taxes instead of you.

As for rents, increased supply of housing drives rents down, not up.  Rich folks may move into the fancy new places, but that means they move out of older places and the rent on those units ends up lower than it otherwise would have been.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on February 28, 2014  7:59pm


I am not at all opposed to development, in fact I was a big supporter of all the large developments downtown including 360 St. My point was that they 360 state got funds in exchange for 50 units being “affordable housing units” And they did do that, I think almost all of them are studios. To me when the state or feds give you a chuck of change in exchange for so many “affordable units” I think more along the line of familys with kids, working poor. I think the wordage in those agreements should be changed to so 1bd, 2bdr ect and how many from this point on.
That was the way I was going with that comment.

And yes I am a firm believer that this city is being gentrified.

Ex Front St. housing was subsidize housing, people were moved out, told they were rebuilding it. Now many are not affordable any more. We’ve seen several of the same projects happening around the city at housing projects. Anf yes they added to the grand list because they sold some of the units at Front St but were did all those people that lived there go??

And Esbey I am not going to fight the tax increase because it is a why bother. But I do resent the fact that Harp hired two chauffeurs, wants to add 7 new positions, and buy an SUV. I have to live within my means to afford the extra taxes THE MAYOR SHOULD HAVE to as well. And I realize that the city workers have to get raises but they are getting alot more than the average resident that lives in New Haven that works in the privet industry. Many do not get annual raise and are taking more and more out of pocket for health care far more than the government sector is. And I realize they have many contacts have changed. But I feel that if she is going to raise our taxes I want to see some EFFORT to NOT SPEND
ButI agree with you most times. I feel that development and gentrification should not have to go hand and hand. You are right the more housing we have can drive the prices down…it is just not the way it has ever worked in New Haven.

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on February 28, 2014  8:11pm

@Robn, I don’t miss the point.  Mayor Harp could not realistically have flat funded the BOE and Garth Harries does not have the stones to make actual cuts to his department’s budget.  I blame this on DeStefano and the current Board.  But perhaps my blame is misplaced but from all I’ve garnered about the BOE there are too many support staff and deans in the schools and they have not been pushed out and are not accountable in the same way teachers are. Garth should have been forced to fix this or hand in his resignation.

Mayor Harp and every other citizen could and should have known that the taxes were going to rise.  Inflation is one reason and increased debt service is another.  The other is creating an actual rainy day fund.  And yes, she wants some positions within city hall that actually make sense: grant writing department (if they succeed in obtaining grants this makes a lot of sense) and a bilingual admin.  I do take offense at Michael Smart’s request as he does have Sally Brown there (even though he’s trying to push her out) and the office has otherwise functioned well.

What certain people tend to forget in lambasting Mayor Harp for not owning anything is that her son does.  And her son’s business is not behind or delinquent on property taxes.  To my knowledge, there has been no story about that.  And unlike 360 State, Ninth Square, or Live Work Play, the business has not sought any special tax considerations.  The attacks would make sense if you all had your facts straight… Alas, that is asking to much of you.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 28, 2014  9:14pm

posted by: robn on February 28, 2014 5:45pm


Wrong. The data which you are so grossly misrepresenting comes from the FBI (link below). It records violent crime in US cities with a population over 100,000. If you look at the data correctly, you’ll see that New Haven ranks 253rd out of about 265 for violent crimes per capita.

In other words, you’re relatively safe in New Haven. Thanks law abiding citizens and NHPD!

How about this data.

Study: More people leaving state than moving in - Connecticut.


WNPR: Trend of More People Leaving Connecticut Than Moving In Worst in Nation.


Report: Connecticut tops nation in losing residents.


Forget the crime.I bet when the tax hikes come People will be doing the above.

My Bad.I forgot you blame the unions.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on February 28, 2014  10:13pm

cedarhillresident says “New Haven is one of the least Democratic towns in the state. It is a nanny city.” Actually this budget proposal makes it a Most-Typical Democratic city. For example, check out what honor our Democrat-controlled state govt has garnered—yet again: CT’s fiscal condition is among the WORST in the nation. http://mercatus.org/publication/state-fiscal-condition-ranking-50-states
Just imagine! Our 1-party city govt can do the very same for YOU! So please remember, Ward 7 voters. On March 17 you have a chance to elect the sole GOP opposition to this madness—even if it does potentially threaten the Arctic (referring to my comments here): http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/ward_7_special_election/

posted by: robn on February 28, 2014  11:09pm


One more thing. Mayor Harp may have inherited contracts guaranteeing unionized city employees more compensation but that doesn’t prevent her from shrinking the workforce. So far I’ve seen no evidence that a city with 135,000 residents needs a workforce of 5,000.

posted by: Wikus van de Merwe on March 1, 2014  8:34am

Poe’s law, HewNaven, or are you really making fun of homeowners for complaining about a tax increase?

For what I pay in taxes in NH I could go 20 miles in any direction and get 3 extra acres, peace, quiet, safety, health, and plowed streets.  And I don’t get half of the bupkiss I’ve been promised for it.  I’d leave but I’m underwater.

If your goal is to have more owner occupied houses turned into rotting abandoned properties and then into poorly managed HUD properties, by all means, continue to chuckle.

posted by: Wikus van de Merwe on March 1, 2014  8:53am

And every single politician with constituents in cities should be mailing out support for this proposal:


We can’t remain reliant on a handouts from our benefactors the state and Yale.

Make these politicians commit their support and then send them packing if they fail.

posted by: robn on March 1, 2014  9:32am

Reading the fine print of this article I notice two things

1) a new Assistant City Clerk (aka Mike Smart’s personal snitch) is in Harps budget. This should be rejected without debate. It’s not only a redundant position and a waste of taxpayer dollars AND a Stasi like move to monitor political opponents, but also an insult to Dally Brown and staff who work hard.

2) just what the heck is a “personal property initiative”? The last time the office of tax collector went after various people for this historically unenforced personal property tax (an absurd disincentive for homeowners and businesses to remain in New Haven), the city was dangerously close to an equal protection lawsuit. The administration had better sit down with Victor Bolden on this because it could end up costing far more than it hopes to gain.

posted by: Pantagruel on March 1, 2014  11:19am

This again points to the need to scrap the property tax as the basis of government funding, and replace it with a progressive income tax.

Individual tax payers would make high contributions during their most productive years, but not be taxed out of their homes when they retire and are living on fixed incomes.

And high income renters would pay their fair share.

If the income tax was disbursed on a state wide basis, it would reduce inequities in urban and suburban regions as all would be getting the same per pupil dollars.

It could help revitalize our cities, since it would remove incentives to flee the city to suburban tax havens.

I realize this would be hard to achieve since non-urban areas have a self-interest in the status quo. But property tax is a dinosaur.

posted by: HewNaven on March 1, 2014  12:15pm

First many of the whiney home owners will just pass it down to the people that rent! So look forward to a rent increase.

That was exactly my point. The average additional $170/year won’t be paid by the multi-fam homeowner, it will be passed on to the renter. So really, no one is buying the ‘woe is me’ saga that we hear every year from these cheap homeowners. New Haven needs people who can afford to be stewards of their property and the surrounding neighborhood, not people who are scraping by every year trying to pinch their purse.

And, if you live in a single family and you really can’t afford that average $170 increase, by all means, move to the suburbs. You’ll love it there. Meanwhile, young people, including young professionals willing to buy homes, are lining up to move out of those boring, ‘cheap’ towns and move into exciting cities like New Haven. It’s not to say that they will pay ANYTHING to live here, but they are willing to pay a little more than the cost of living in the ‘burbs.

Does the city’s Grand List need to grow? Of course! Duh. But do we simultaneously need to slash the budget so one can save $170? Give me a break! Not that these two are mutually exclusive, but at some point one does need to accept the fact that we live in the bluest city in one of the bluest states. Is anyone out there so naive to believe that a CT politician is going to trim the budget and lower taxes, ever? You’re living in the wrong state if you’re hoping for that scenario. But, I admire your faith.

posted by: HewNaven on March 1, 2014  3:03pm

For what I pay in taxes in NH I could go 20 miles in any direction and get 3 extra acres, peace, quiet, safety, health, and plowed streets.

That tells me you have no vested interest in the long-term ‘quality of life’ for New Haven residents. You’re not willing to stick it out and solve routine urban problems with your fellow residents. You’re simply shopping for a cheap lifestyle no matter where you land. You could be in any town and you’d be happy, as long as it’s cheap. Meanwhile, most of us love New Haven and we do have an interest in long-term prosperity. That’s why we’re willing to step out of our ideological stances and put our heads together. I hope you and those like you can do the same, because these whiny, penny-pincher rants are not contributing to the discussion.

posted by: HewNaven on March 1, 2014  3:13pm

And every single politician with constituents in cities should be mailing out support for this proposal:


Of course, who wouldn’t think we should pursue taxation of the large non-profits, or increased PILOT payments?? But how does that help with this year’s budget. a) Even if aggressively pursued, those things are not going to happen for a long time b) Destefano let the same scenario persist for 20 years and created the budget fiasco we’re in right now! The fact that so many have jumped up to blame the new administration for these issues suggests that they don’t exactly love the idea of having a black woman in charge, or they’re sad Destefano-defenders. Otherwise, how could you explain such an oversight in reason? Does anyone really think the Harp administration created the budget mess? They haven’t even figured out a decent hiring process for city employees yet! Or figured out how to clear the streets after a snow storm!

posted by: FacChec on March 1, 2014  4:47pm

The Mayor argues that this budget was pre decided by the DeStefano administration and that she is obliged to abide by his initiatives. That is partially true, the state and local budget were in development before she took office in Jan.

DeStefano’s budget contributions:

Expenditure increases concentrated in several areas
 Debt Service - $3.6m
 Salary increases for previously settled contract $2.6m
 Education - $1.5m
 Fund Balance Replenishment - $2m
 Medical Benefits - $1.9m
 Pensions - $1.7m
 Contract reserve - $1m

Harps direct contributions to the increases show.

Positions – Net Increase 6.5 - 6 in Mayors Office offset by 6 eliminated elsewhere-
 0.5 Corp Counsel = half time to full time
 1 Finance Accounts payable – audit function

2 $1 Senior Center Directors - Will fill if grants allow implementation
 $1 Food Systems Policy Director, $1 Food System Policy Analyst – in CSA – Filled if Grants
allow implementation
 1 Asst City/Town Clerk
 Mill rate increase from 40.8 to 42.36
o 1.56 mill increase – 3.61%

Funding included for the second sworn classes in both Police and Fire.
 Fire overtime budget decreased by ($1.2m). to $3.9 or $76,000 per week.
 Police sequestration account reduced to ($1.0m). Net week overtime budget of $84,000 per week.
 Board of Education budget increase of $1.5m or (0.86%) plus an additional $3.2m in Educational Cost Sharing funds
 The General Fund contribution to Medical Self Insurance Fund increase 3% of $1.8m to $66m. The trend for FY 13-14 is
currently at 4.5%.
 Pension costs
o Police & Fire – Budget Increase if $893,531. Increase would have been $2,486,694 without Police contract
settlement. Cost avoidance of $1,593,161. Fire contract still outstanding.
o City employees – Increase of $674,752.

Your claim has a hollow ring Mayor Harp. You are as much responsible for over estimating income while increasing spending as DeStefano was for the previous twenty years. 

posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 1, 2014  5:25pm

“New Haven needs people who can afford to be stewards of their property and the surrounding neighborhood, not people who are scraping by every year trying to pinch their purse”

Really! that is kind of an elitist comment.

Actually it is a bit scummy.

So you would have all the working poor home move out of this city and replace them with rich and well off!

SEE Esbey…this is what I was refering to.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on March 1, 2014  9:12pm

The system is broken, people. Property tax has maxed out.

Brendan Sharkey and Pantagruel at least have the moxie to look for new solutions. Not the annually moaning about increasing the share of PILOT.

Keep spinning your wheels as you are crushed under the burden of property taxes in New Haven.

and keep writing those checks!

posted by: MESSYNH on March 2, 2014  11:04am

Can you post a link to the last debate Mayor Harp had with Justin Elicker?  I remember Harp saying (between 8:30 and 8:40am) that she would not raise taxes!!!  Broken promise?

Now increasing Mayor’s staff?  Not acceptable!

Comparing New Haven’s mill rate to other cities is a red herring!  it does not matter. There are more municipalities with mill rates that are less than New Haven than more.  Lets focus on that.  The proposed mill rate increase in New Haven has no effect on the non-New Haven campaign contributors to Harp, so they don’t care. 

Alders need to vote no to the mill rate increase.  Enough is enough!

posted by: HewNaven on March 2, 2014  11:13am

Knee-jerk reactions to tax increases are often myopic, and the comments here prove no exception.

IMO, the ‘working poor’ is a class that cannot afford homeownership, they are typically renters. It’s not hard to see that those of us who rent would be better served by landlords who can afford to be good stewards, instead of landlords who gripe about a $170 tax increase. Those are the same landlords who jeopardize the health and safety of renters by not maintaining their homes and properties. If $170 is going to break the bank now, what will these landlords do when one of their tenants is complaining about something in need of repair? Ignore them? Send them packing? Not to mention that the tax increase is always PASSED ON TO THE RENTER anyhow, so no one buys the argument that it’s taking money out of the landlord’s pocket. It’s an outright lie.

Single-Family homeowners are another story. They do solely bear the burden of a tax increase. But, those who threaten exodus and compare our mill rate to surrounding towns are really clueless about the true cost of living. Here’s just one example, living in New Haven I save $10,000/year not owning a car. Now if I move to the suburbs for a cheaper mill, I’m going to suddenly need a car, and that’s going to cost a lot more than $170/year!! There are plenty more examples, just ask anyone why they live in New Haven vs. suburbs. It’s not for the taxes!

And to top it all off, if we were to actually make the drastic cuts that people like Stratton are suggesting, guess how much our taxes would go down? ..... (*drumroll, please)........ 1/2 a Mill!

Wow! Don’t spend that all at once!

posted by: TheMadcap on March 2, 2014  11:50am

“There are more municipalities with mill rates that are less than New Haven than more”

Of course there are because there are many more suburbs and small rural towns than there are cities. Cities always have high mill rates between a mix of actually having to provide services beyond a couple of cops and a school system with 500 people in it, and having a large part of their population being under or near the poverty line.

posted by: robn on March 2, 2014  12:20pm


You make a false assumption that living in New Haven means working in New Haven and therefore, you’re assumptions about transportation savings is also false. But even if it were true, why should a city stake claim to someone’s savings just because it’s there? For instance if I walk to work everyday, what does the city require financially to help me do so beyond what any other town does (ie sidewalks). The answer is nothing.
This Is exactly what’s wrong with the Democratic Party in CT; they don’t see citizens as their employers, just as taxable “capacity”.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on March 2, 2014  12:20pm

@HewNaven—Please stop with the propagandizing of the coming tax increase as being an average “$170”, as that is a lie.

The average home value in New Haven lies well north of the $150,000 home being used in the bogus “$170” computation. A $250,000 home would receive a $283 tax increase, a $300,000 home a $340 tax increase, a $400,000 home a $450 tax increase, etc.

Anyway, most of this angst is premature, as we still must wait to see what we get from Hartford, in an election year where Malloy wants our votes, but can’t raise taxes.

posted by: robn on March 2, 2014  12:28pm

Bottom line is this. Unions comprised of Yale 34+35 and city AFSCME teamed up to win an election so that Yale unions would get extravagant contracts ( they did) and so the city wouldn’t cut staff, compensation or benefits (what were seeing right now with the added insult of an enlarged government to provide employment for campaign allies.) Pretty sleazy in my book.

posted by: HewNaven on March 2, 2014  12:48pm

The average home value in New Haven lies well north of the $150,000 home being used in the bogus “$170” computation. A $250,000 home would receive a $283 tax increase, a $300,000 home a $340 tax increase, a $400,000 home a $450 tax increase, etc.

You must be assuming that everyone here lives in East Rock or Westville or Morris Cove, because I actually do live in a working class neighborhood where EVERY SINGLE HOUSE on my street is assessed between $100,000-$200,000. There is NOTHING assessed at over $200,000, many are below $150,000. Do your homework.

I guess you were referring to those poor people in the nice neighborhoods mentioned above? I feel so sorry for them. My god, those poor people with their homes assessed at $400,000. Their lives must be so hard.

posted by: HewNaven on March 2, 2014  12:59pm

You make a false assumption that living in New Haven means working in New Haven and therefore, you’re assumptions about transportation savings is also false.

I borrowed that average annual estimate from AAA:


My example was really quite simple: if I live and work in New Haven I do not require a car. If I live in a suburb, regardless of where my job is, I would most likely require a car, which will cost an average of $10,000 annually.

As I said, I’m not willing to list all the reasons I choose to live in New Haven, the list would be too long. Just ask your friends and neighbors and find out for yourself why so many of us left suburban towns to come here.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on March 2, 2014  1:24pm

@ Hew—Wow, it again feels as if you’re almost purposefully confusing the issue, this time conflating tax assessments with home values.

Fwiw, houses are assessed at 70% of their valuation. So a $250,000 house is assessed at $175,000, a $300,000 house is assessed at $210,000, a $400,000 house is assessed at $280,000, etc.

Again, there is nothing average about a $150,000 single-family house as it pertains to New Haven.

posted by: robn on March 2, 2014  2:16pm


You’re evading my question. If everyone in the city sold their car and walked to work, why would it be OK for the city to take that savings with taxes?

posted by: FacChec on March 2, 2014  2:18pm

The most recent Census estimate for New Haven Ct. Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2008-2012 is: $219,000

Hopefully,this information will help elimate the off topic dicussion about home values.

New Haven (city), Connecticut

Housing units, 2010 54,967

Homeownership rate, 2008-2012 30.8%

Housing units in multi-unit structures, percent, 2008-2012 74.4%

Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2008-2012 $219,000

Households, 2008-2012 49,308

Persons per household, 2008-2012 2.43

Per capita money income in past 12 months (2012 dollars), 2008-2012 $23,026

Median household income, 2008-2012 $38,482

Persons below poverty level, percent, 2008-2012 26.9%

posted by: Syne on March 2, 2014  2:34pm

I hope the Board of Alders does NOT approve all the new positions the mayor wants to create.  I’m counting on the mayor and her advisers to figure out how to allocate existing resources and personnel to get the job done.  Let’s hold off on new tax increases.

posted by: yim-a on March 2, 2014  3:03pm

Seems a selfish budget.  Increase my (mayor Harp’s) staff, provide me with a chaffeur and new car, decrease your (New Havenites) quality of life (overtime for Police and Fire Department), and increase your taxes.  I’ve started to save for a mortgage in Hamden, there’s nothing affordable in a safe neighborhood, and Harp has made it abundantly clear that quality of life issues are at the bottom of the priority list.

posted by: Esbey on March 2, 2014  3:46pm

@cedarhill, yes I see why you find that comment offensive.  To be clear, when I promote development I mean putting up towers on underused lots downtown and/or converting empty factory buildings to apartments.  I don’t mean “redevelopment” that takes or tears down the housing of local workers and replaces that with only high-income housing.

For me, places like Church Street South are the hard cases.  I don’t think they work well for the poor residents at all, but simply tearing them down without replacement is also a problem.  We need to find some way for the section 8 housing vouchers that help residents to not disappear when the projects are torn down.

posted by: TheMadcap on March 2, 2014  4:30pm

“You must be assuming that everyone here lives in East Rock or Westville or Morris Cove, because I actually do live in a working class neighborhood where EVERY SINGLE HOUSE on my street is assessed between $100,000-$200,000. There is NOTHING assessed at over $200,000, many are below $150,000. Do your homework.”

It should also be noted 1/2 of the city had property values go down in the last evaluation, so technically for many a tax rise would result in around the same tax amount that a lower mill rate 3-4 years would’ve produced.

posted by: Truth Avenger on March 2, 2014  4:49pm

“...the city can move from short-term fixes to a “sustainable financial future.”

What about the sustainable future of homeowners who are perpetually overtaxed? We are forced to live within our means, why shouldn’t the city?

Hew Naven can scoff at $170.00 rate hike, (much more for others), he can call us “whiners”.... or any other pejorative of his choosing. The fact remains that he has absolutely no idea of the fiscal responsibilities and hardships that exist in families beyond their tax burdens. Anything above the already confiscatory level of taxes in this city is just another reason for us to get in our cars, and leave for good. The Mayor is urged to dump this tax-and-spend plan quicker than she dumped Sundiata Keitazulu.

posted by: HewNaven on March 2, 2014  5:26pm

Again, there is nothing average about a $150,000 single-family house as it pertains to New Haven.

Who said anything about single-family homeowners being average in New Haven? Most of us live in 2-3BR units within multi-family homes, many of which are owner-occupied. That’s average. But, we don’t hear from these average homeowners. Instead we only seem to hear those cheap single-family homeowners whining about another unavoidable mill increase and threatening to leave town. My question remains, do we really even want these kind of people in New Haven with such myopic vision? I’d prefer to think long-term and envision our collective prosperity instead of whining about my personal budget. Does anyone else want to hear that CT Transit increased the fare recently and now I’m forced to pay an extra $175/year for basic transportation? Probably not. SO, I don’t need to hear about your tax increase. Like I said before, renters like me will get to know about the tax increase whether we like it or not. It will present itself as an increase in rent.

BTW, you’re right about conflating assessments and appraisals. The houses on my street are APPRAISED at between $100,000-$200,000, and the ASSESSED values indeed land near $150,000 and below.

posted by: HewNaven on March 2, 2014  5:49pm

You’re evading my question. If everyone in the city sold their car and walked to work, why would it be OK for the city to take that savings with taxes?

That’s definitely NOT ok. But, it’s also not what I was suggesting. I was merely pointing out that those people threatening to leave town for a lower mill rate are in for a surprise increase in their cost of living. If they are even ABLE to find a similar home at equal assessment (more likely they’ll either find a much smaller, less historic home with a similar assessed value, or a similar-sized, historic home with a higher assessment) their taxes may be less - and not by much - but their energy and transportation expenses will skyrocket immediately. All this, and not a trace of the world-class art, culture, and dining that New Haven offers residents within walking distance of their homes. How could anyone even consider it?

If anything comes of this discussion, we should all be talking about pursuing regional funding schemes given the value that New Haven brings to those living in the suburbs. It’s not our residents using the sidewalk that I’m worried about, its the people from out of town who aren’t paying for the sidewalks that troubles me. How do we get them to pay their fair share for all they get out of New Haven? That should be the topic of conversation.

posted by: Sean on March 2, 2014  6:09pm

Be creative - can the mayor suggest a tax on incomes? Spread the tax amongst everyone working in New Haven, not just those of us who buy or rent here. Or a commuter tax.  At least require any new hires in the budget to live in the city. 

New Haven prop taxes are already out of whack with surrounding burbs, it is very difficult getting people to move here rather than (safer, nicer) burbs.  Need to be selling people on moving into the city and getting more people here, not shoving them out!

Oh, and thanks for hiring yourself two chaueffeurs (with OT) and thinking creatively there.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 2, 2014  6:15pm

posted by: robn on March 2, 2014 11:28am
Bottom line is this. Unions comprised of Yale 34+35 and city AFSCME teamed up to win an election so that Yale unions would get extravagant contracts ( they did) and so the city wouldn’t cut staff, compensation or benefits (what were seeing right now with the added insult of an enlarged government to provide employment for campaign allies.) Pretty sleazy in my book.
Talk about Sleazy.

Here are the top ten examples of corporate welfare and welfare for the rich. There are actually thousands of tax breaks and subsidies for the rich and corporations provided by federal, state and local governments.


posted by: Don in New Haven on March 2, 2014  7:55pm

I am reviewing the Mayor’s Budget and the Math is wrong. On Page 16, Budget at a Glance, we have these numbers.

Mill rate increase from 40.8 to 42.36

1.56 mill increase – 3.61%

Taxes on a house whose market value is $150,000 will go up by $168

Please check my Math.

42-36 - 40.8 = 1.56

1.56/40.8 = 3.82% This is what should have been done. What do they have in mind?

1.56/42.36 = 3.68% This is close to their number but is not correct. Are they thinking?

Concerning the tax on a $150,000 house, they are wrong again:

150 * 40.80 = 6120 Taxes now
150 * 42.36 = 6354 New taxes

6354 - 6120 = $234 increase in tax, not $168 as stated in the Budget.

Suppose $168 is correct. What is the percent of 6120?

168/6120 = 2.75%

Suppose $234 is correct. What is the percent of 6120?

234/6120 = 3.82%

If I cannot believe the beginning of the Budget, why should I believe the end? Is this is the sales pitch? Or, is this a pig in a poke?

Do you know anybody on the Alder Committee? If so, ask them what’s going on?

All that money spent on education and nobody in City Hall knows simple arithmetic????

posted by: robn on March 2, 2014  11:21pm


Houses are assessed at 70% of market value. A house with a market value of $150k has an assessment of $105k. $105k multiplied by 0.00156 is about 164 dollars. So the mayor rounded up to $170 maybe?

posted by: Bradley on March 3, 2014  7:23am

Sean, all of your proposals would require legislation at the state level. The mayor could propose any of them. But, since about two-thirds of the legislators represent suburban districts, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to be enacted.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on March 3, 2014  9:14am

check out this op ed piece in the CT Mirror on the need for statewide tax reform because of inequities in property taxes.


We need political leaders who will dare to think big thoughts and stop kicking the can down the road.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on March 3, 2014  10:16am

State-level tax reform and full-funding of PILOT would be great. However, the suburbs would not benefit at all from such reforms; they benefit enormously by maintaining the status-quo. And the suburbs control the state legislature. Thus fiscal solutions—including fiscal responsibility—need to be ENTIRELY local. The one thing that CAN be done is for residents to stop voting based on ideology that is utterly irrelevant to local, city politics and instead vote for people who are NOT part of the One-Party Machine: Greens, Republicans, Unaffiliated/Independent. Whatever*. THIS is the ONLY way we will bring new ideas, alternative views and healthy dissension.  And yes, Threefifths, proportional representation or similar election reforms also would help, but these likewise would need to be enacted by the state legislators—which simply isn’t going to happen. Again, too many careerists benefit from the current, corrupt system. So we only can shake things up at the LOCAL city govt level. (Are you listening, Ward 7 voters?...)
*But NOT write-in candidates—UNLESS that write-in candidate has filed the proper paperwork for his/her votes to count. Otherwise, in CT a write-in vote is the same as not voting: yet another example of how our system of “democracy” has been corrupted by crony careerists.

posted by: TheMadcap on March 3, 2014  10:16am


under CT law, local municipalities to my knowledge are not allowed to create their own sales or income taxes.

posted by: 14yearsinNHandgone on March 3, 2014  10:32am

Everyone has their breakage point.  After 14 years in New Haven, I’ve gone an bought a lovely house in Hamden.  I’m 15 minutes from New Haven, and can enjoy everything the city has to offer, and get twice for my tax dollars that I would in New Haven.

You can whine till you’re blue in the face that I’m not “real” New Haven, and that you’re better off without people like me, and here’s a newsflash - I don’t care.  I love New Haven deeply, had some of the best and most memorable times of my life there, but at the end of the day, I am not going to be held hostage to those people and groups in would-be-great New Haven.  For every two people who want to move New Haven forward, three more want to keep it stagnant, for their own selfish reasons.

You want to call people like me selfish for moving out of New Haven, for greener pastures?  How about all the folks who keep New Haven mired where it is because it’s comfortable for them, or because they profit from it, or because they’re not planning to be in New Haven long enough for any of it to matter?  That’s not exactly altruism.

Maybe instead of attacking people who leave New Haven for the suburbs, you should be engaging them to see why they left in the first place…or better yet, get down off your high horse and take their concerns seriously while they’re still there.

posted by: fk on March 3, 2014  10:40am

Bridgeport and Waterbury might have lower mill rates but the property values are lower as well.

I don’t know what houses are assessed at $150,000 but I know that mine is much higher than that!  I would see an increase of over $500!  Certain neighborhoods are already paying an unfair proportion of the taxes.  something needs to be done to address this.

posted by: RhyminTyman on March 3, 2014  12:57pm

HewNaven you are really diluted on this issue. I am a homeowner in the Heights. I love it. I understand I need for a high mill rate. What you don’t understand or ignore is several flaws to your just tax’‘em attitude.

1. Most people in New Haven need a car. Unless you live downtown or surrounding it you need to drive to get groceries, medicine, work, etc. From the sounds of you never been across the Quinnipac and realize how disconnected those areas are to downtown. A trolley would be better served going down Grand and E Grand then in East Rock. If you want to go out at night forget the bus, not that you can rely on it during the day, that is a 20 dollar cab fare. So in the areas in New Haven that are the most owner-occupied, you need a car or two. So the 10k savings isn’t really a strong point when arguing mill rates. You can connect these areas if the state and city agree but it hasn’t happen.

2. Crime is tied to non-owner-occupied buildings. So if you want to decrease crime in New Haven get the owners to live in their homes. Higher mill rates prevent this because you need to pay your taxes in advanced for the year, so you have now made it more difficult. Take Fair Haven, for example, if the owner lived in the building and was more than just financially invested in it, the building would look nicer, and the tenants would better behaved. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?

3. Toni Harp was elected under the assumption she wouldn’t raise taxes. She did right away. Where is there evidence that this was a struggle for her and just couldn’t cut anymore?

4. The taxes more than just real property. Cars, boats, motor bikes are all taxed at the same rate as your home. So you have a home and two cars you are paying more than the mythical 170.

This isn’t touching your opinions that this all JD’s fault, if you don’t like the budget you’re racist, and all homeowners are just whiny.

posted by: fk on March 3, 2014  1:03pm

You are correct.  The Mayor’s math is wrong and your’s is correct!
Maybe we should consider hiring somebody that can do simple math instead of paying for the new positions the mayor is proposing.  That would be a position worth paying for.  Maybe we can call it the math czar.

Robyn, the article says that the “Harp said the mill rate increase would mean homeowners would pay $170 more per year for a house assessed at $150,000”, not for a house with a fair market value of $150,000. 
New Haven Independent, can you verify that this was what she said? 
We either have a mayor who can’t do basic math or a mayor who is being less than honest, hoping that we cannot do basic math.  Either way, we should not allow her to control our money!

posted by: robn on March 3, 2014  1:18pm


I was quoting DINH who correctly quoted the mayors budget;, “Taxes on a house whose market value is $150,000 will go up by $168.”

The mayors analysis is mathematically sound.

posted by: fk on March 3, 2014  1:20pm

I just checked the wording in the budget and it turns out that the Independent misquoted.  the budget says “property with a market value of $150,000”, not property assessed at $150,000. 
The text of the budget does say this is a 3.61% increase while it is in fact, a 3.82% increase as the title of this article suggests.

posted by: Jones Gore on March 3, 2014  1:25pm

“Harp said that while the city gets complaints every day about city services, it has fewer employees and older equipment than it did 20 years ago.”

This is almost the same statement she made when we got close to 10” of snow. She basically used the snow as a prelude to justifying her budget.

New Haven has a lower mill rate and New Haven has a more vibrant economy and growing population.It in a better shape than Hartford and Bridgeport.  If the city need more money look to economic development attract more businesses.

And the crazy thing about this budget is that she wants to create new position which the largest portion of the budget will go. Mayor Harp if you want to reward your friends with positions in your administration? Ok, do something for the city, and we will reward you. You have not done anything yet but made excuses.

posted by: Ms Senior Citizen on March 3, 2014  2:31pm

I am really disappointed with this city as a senior citizen, there is no regards to people with fixed incomes, but believe me if you’re lucky you will get older and then that’s your judgment. There is a very strong need for affordable housing…because every senior is not disable just old, so with that said they’re not in need of a nursing home but decent housing.. and as far as these people appointed to address these issues, they really have no clue what we need because they haven’t asked us only assumed our needs. I am 68 years old, still working because I have no other choice and pay my taxes like every other citizen… but my goodness when does it stop because this city is in shambles, many repairs are needed etc. I’m not on a pity party, just saying stop lining these politics’ pockets which they don’t deserve…they were voted into office and need to work for their pay. Figure out how to manage the budget without raising taxes and breaking the people backs. I’m ready to move out of this God forsaking town/city…

posted by: 14yearsinNHandgone on March 3, 2014  3:00pm

Jonas reminds me of something.

During campaign season, I got no less than three mailings from then-Senator Harp, about storm preparedness.  Everyone in New Haven got these sent to them as “winter storm warnings”.

My hunch at the time was that her team was using state resources, the mailings and mailing list, as a way to raise awareness about her during the mayoral campaign.  I knew for sure that I had never received such a mailing from her in years past.

Then the snows came, and somehow Team Harp turned out to be woefully UNprepared to deal with the storms.

Irony, or sneaky use of state office to campaign in New Haven?

Does anyone still have a copy of any of these mailings?

posted by: TheMadcap on March 3, 2014  4:55pm

” If the city need more money look to economic development attract more businesses.”

This is a nice line and everyone likes to repeat variations of it, but the fact is it’s conveniently ignores the problem. This potentially creates tax money in the future. It does nothing for the budget that needs to be approved right now.

posted by: Serf of New Haven on March 3, 2014  6:19pm

This increase is very high.
The official inflation rate is 1.6. At the bare minimum the rate of property tax increases should never exceed this number and be lower in bad times.
A 4% increase annually will double your taxes in 16 years.
In 1995 years the median household income has moved nada, zero, zero percent, not a dime, and we’re not adjusting for inflation.
Property taxes have doubled and they’re getting ready for a triple.

For those with working memories think about 1995.
In 1995 you would 44 cents more purchasing power for every dollar you earned.
Gallon of milk - $2.90
Gallon of gas - $1.15
Fast forward to 2013
Milk has doubled, gas has tripled, healthcare has tripled, education has tripled, and housing has tripled.
Wages? The same. Stagnant for the median. We are experiencing the worst wage stagflation EVER in the history of this country.

You are not losing your mind if you feel broke these days.

This administration needs to be removed. Incompetence and mismanagement on the highest levels. Completely clueless to the serfs who pay there freight. We shouldn’t be voting in the same politicians who have been overseeing this failure for the last twenty years. Its’ insanity and unsustainable. The music needs to stop.

Time to take back our government from these reckless politicians.

Money does not grow on trees. Unicorns don’t exist.

posted by: cupojoe on March 3, 2014  11:08pm

Tax Yale. TAX the BUSINESS called YALE. Why do colleges and universities need tax credits? Yale has 22+ billion and growing slush pile. Why? They pay no tax. Tax the business that is called Yale and tax other universities.

22 BILLION! And GROWING! And who is that helping? Yalies pay like 50k a year to go to school. Who or what is the 22 BILLION for? It’s a game for them.

Tax Yale. This country needs to tax it’s colleges and universities. These are businesses folks. Time they paid their fair share like the rest of us.



posted by: Christopher Schaefer on March 4, 2014  9:10am

Serf of New Haven says: “We shouldn’t be voting in the same politicians who have been overseeing this failure for the last twenty years. It’s insanity and unsustainable…Time to take back our government from these reckless politicians.” Perfect. I’d only add “these reckless politicians—who have made a career of using OUR govt to pad their own wallets”. Wake up, voters! Dump ALL these crony, self-serving, careerists who have perfected the art of “feigned-caring”—while they use their political office as an obscene means to increase personal wealth and power.

posted by: jim1 on March 4, 2014  11:21am

WHEN IS THE BOA MEETING ON THIS?  WE HAVE ALL GOT TO GO AND GIVE THE MAYOR WHAT FOR.  My SSA went up 1 1/2% and she wants 3.8%  Time to move.  But what fool would move into this town With her as Mayor and the taxes going up each year.  I know some of these were left over from mayor john.  But to pay back people for voting. With new jobs at a rate of $1,500,000. And to have 2 cops drive her around.  I told one of the cops that I have a pistol permit and I could do the job for a lot less.
Lets hope the BOA does the right thing and make cuts where the can..

posted by: TheMadcap on March 4, 2014  12:19pm


You left out the part where in 1994 the median wage in the nation was $23,753 while in 2012 it was $44,321. That part is always left out when people want to talk about the mythical decline of the buying power of the dollar.

And guys, WE CAN’T TAX YALE. Jesus, don’t you think we would if we could. If I recall we tried this in the 70’s or 80’s I want to say and it went all the way to the state supreme court, and state law does not currently allow the taxation of educational property.

Of course what exactly falls into that category is more dubious, for example I don’t think the Yale golf course should count as educational property.

posted by: robn on March 4, 2014  1:06pm

The most sensible and achievable idea I’ve heard to date is the idea of a reverse PILOT in which taxes would be levied by municipalities on non-profit institutions and then those institutions would be obligated to apply for PILOT. Then they can make the annual argument about whether the state is being equitable.
Yale’s 22B endowment dwarfs the theoretical market cap of the City of New Haven and would probably have much more leverage over the Leg.

posted by: wendy1 on March 4, 2014  1:13pm

ATTENTION—-First open session of the finance committee is March 6 Thursday nite 7pm.  This is the first chance you will get to address the above issues in public and before BOA members.  If anyone shows up, this is better than television.  The press will be there.Hooker School on Whitney Ave (new building).  I will be carrying my sign TAX YALE or TAX YOU. I want to meet my fellow NHI commenters. The next open session will be April 3 @ 7pm at Career HS.  You can call the BOA office @ 946 6483.

posted by: Don in New Haven on March 4, 2014  1:46pm

Not enough attention is given to the costs of buying and owning a residence in NH. It would be very useful for someone who has the professional knowledge to post a comment showing what a new buyer would face when purchasing a $150,000 house in New Haven. What is the minimum income for such a buyer? How much are the monthly/annual payments, including this new burdensome tax? If you want to buy affordable housing, don’t come to New Haven. The NH government is bloated and needs to be reduced more than it needs this terrible property tax. There is no need to chase more money from Yale or others. The real need is to reduce the cost of running the government. Many times I see police drawing overtime at traffic locations where construction is underway. Is there any reason why the unemployed youngsters could not be trained to do this for far less? The Mayor should actively seek this and other opportunities in the government that does not require professionals. Why can’t the Mayor’s driver be someone other than the police? One person in an earlier comment offered to perform this service. Why must the City bear the cost of the Mayor’s transportation? The government is too big and we need maximum efforts to reduce or eliminate excess.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on March 4, 2014  2:49pm

Madcap: We can and must tax wealthy non-profits.

The original exemption for Yale provided for taxation over a set amount of assets. It has not been updated since its inception.

Has there ever been an inventory of real and personal property?

Yale’s clout as a multi-billion dollar multi-national corporation means that politicians go to it with begging bowls, rather than demand that it and other pay their fair share. It is a matter of legislative will, not the law, that is the barrier.

The 1985 Tax Commission Report authorized by the Board of Alderman recommended taxing Yale and other wealthy non-profits.

Since then the annual bleating over the inadequacy of PILOT reimbursement continues like Kabuki theater.

There are alternatives: eliminate all property taxes for a progressive income tax; do a “reverse” PILOT and let the so-called non-profits petition for reimbursement or flat out tax them on a rational basis with a baseline exemption for soup kitchens and such.

How does Yale live with itself, a citadel of wealth and privilege surrounded by increasing desperation?

President Salovey could demonstrate some “emotional intelligence” by opening a dialogue to making Yale a responsible corporate citizen.

Going after Gourmet Heaven, students, is not enough.

posted by: RhyminTyman on March 4, 2014  3:06pm

I bought a home as a first time home buyer last April. It cost me 110,000. The debt to income ratio can’t exceed 55%. So you income is as important as your preexisiting debt service. You have to put down at last 3.5% so it cost me around 3800. Next is costing cost which are mortgage fees, the next 6 months of taxes, a year of insurance, and 3 months of you escrow. That ran about 8000. Some of which the seller picked up as part of receiving the 110,000. So not including things like inspections and other cost like that 12000 for 110,000. Each month mortgage and escrow is less than 1100.

posted by: ProUnion on March 4, 2014  3:07pm


The officers at traffic locations are not drawing “overtime”, they are drawing “extra duty”. Per the Local 530 contract, The term, “Extra Police Duty” for the purpose of this Article shall mean police duty for
which an employee is paid directly or indirectly by some party other than the City. “The City will bill a surcharge to employers utilizing Extra Duty Police Officers, to cover administrative costs.” Extra duty DOES NOT cost the city any money, the city actually MAKES money!

posted by: TheMadcap on March 4, 2014  4:17pm


I don’t disagree, I’m just pointing out the fact it’s currently impossible for us here in New Haven to place any taxes on Yale. It’s just not an option.(and definitely won’t be anytime soon as it’s an election year)

posted by: Serf of New Haven on March 4, 2014  10:04pm

Median household income is different from the median wage.
The real median household income rate over the years I mentioned is flat.




I could list another hundred links but I won’t.
I know this is hard to believe but it is true. Making pretend this isn’t going on in this country won’t make it disappear.
Perhaps you have been shielded from this by youth or a very healthy inflation adjusted salary.