By Bobby Berriault
After two terms of Mayor Erin Stewart, I say it’s time for a change in leadership. In her two terms of office, Republican Mayor Stewart raised our property taxes by 19% or $19,231,280! Our mill rate is currently at 50.5 mills, making it the fourth most expensive of any town in the State of Connecticut. As a result, middle class families are moving out of our city, and businesses are choosing to invest and create jobs in neighboring towns instead of here in New Britain.
Our city cannot compete with neighboring towns for jobs and middle-class families when their taxes are in many cases half of what New Britain’s taxes are. For instance, the mill rate in Farmington is 25.78 mills, Avon’s 29.52, Simsbury’s 37.12, Burlington’s 31.60, Plainville’s 31.99. and Southington’s 29.64. When we continuously raise taxes, we hurt homeowners especially seniors and those with disabilities who are on fixed incomes; some of whom have even declared bankruptcy and whose homes are being foreclosed as a result of the 19% increase in taxes. This in turn has an adverse effect on grand list growth, as our grant list grew by 0.9% from last year, which places New Britain in last place of the 169 municipalities in grand list growth.
Under Mayor Stewart, the rate of government spending grew by 11%! Today, our city spends $242 million per year (most of the growth occurred with the increase in spending of non-essential services such as marketing and street scape projects, none of it on public education or human services). This rate of spending, driven largely by non-essential projects designed to enhance the cosmetic look of our city, coupled with the double digit tax increase, is killing our city as this is completely unsustainable for the future growth of our city, and the Stewart administration has in effect created a downward spiral, as in order to maintain the current level of essential services we have to continuously raise taxes forever.
I want every voter to keep this in mind: Erin Stewart promised in her campaigns in 2013 and 2015 that she wouldn’t raise taxes, yet she broke her promise twice! Merrill Gay has the knowledge, experience, and maturity to lead our city out of this mess. I encourage every voter to visit his website https://merrill4nb.org/ to learn more about how the Democrats will move our city in the right direction, and furthermore I encourage every voter to vote Row A on Tuesday November 7! Together, we can build a better New Britain!
Editor’s note: Bobby Berriault is a Democratic candidate for City Council in Ward 4.