May 12, 2014/Press Releases

INFOGRAPHIC: Boughton’s Budget Record Illustrated: Rising Taxes and Shorted Schools

Hartford, CT – The Connecticut Democratic Party today released an infographic illustrating Mark Boughton’s consistent record as a tax-raiser as Danbury Mayor. Just last week, the Danbury City Council approved Boughton’s proposed tax hike of just under 3%, marking his seventh consecutive budget – and the eighth during his tenure – that raises taxes on residents. While spending and taxes have increased, Boughton has failed to fully fund his local schools, allocating $1.4 million less than was requested by the Board of Education this year. That’s despite Education Cost Sharing grants to Danbury doubling since 2000.

“If Mark Boughton has a track record, it’s this: taxes and spending are rising, education is being shortchanged, and his credibility is plummeting. As he laughably campaigns promising billions of dollars of tax cuts and reductions in the state budget, voters need to look no further than Danbury—his words don’t match his actions,” said Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo.

The infographic showing Boughton’s record can be found here.

See below for the Connecticut Democratic Party’s fact sheet on Mark Boughton’s municipal budget practices:

Mark Boughton: Shorting Education, Raising Taxes & Increasing Spending

On Tuesday, Boughton increased Danbury’s taxes and fees to pay for $8.4 million in new spending


Danbury’s City Council Approved The 2014-15 Fiscal Year Budget, Including A Tax Increase Just Under 3 Percent. “The City Council on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a $235.7 million municipal and education budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year that will increase taxes by just under 3 percent. The new budget will raise the city’s tax rate from 26.8 to 27.6 mills, meaning that taxpayers will pay an additional $80 for each $100,000 worth of assessed property.” [Danbury News-Times, 5/6/14]

Boughton’s FY14-15 Proposed Budget Called For “Modest Rate Increases” For Sewer And Water Services. “The Sewer and Water Funds are enterprise funds which are intended to operate like service oriented utilities and stand-alone businesses. However, like any business, these funds have suffered the ups and downs of the economic cycles. In the past, the funds have been able to tolerate most of the increasing costs because revenues were also increasing more than costs. However, over the past several years revenue from connection fees, interest earnings, usage fees and other revenues have declined while costs continued to increase. Meanwhile, the sewer and water infrastructure and treatment facilities need to be maintained properly. Consequently, the FY 2014-2015 Proposed Sewer and Water Budget will require very modest rate increases. An average user which is typically a family of four using 18,000 gallons per quarter will pay an additional 2.5 cents per day for sewer and 2.0 cents per day for water.” [Danbury FY14-15 Proposed Budget]

Danbury News-Times: “The Total Budget Is $8.4 Million Higher Than The Current 2013-14 Package…” “The total budget is $8.4 million higher than the current 2013-14 package, and reflects a $3.5 million rise in education spending, as well as increases in pension costs, capital improvements and contractual obligations. The bulk of the hike in the education budget, some $2.9 million, will pay for staffing and equipment for a new middle school that is scheduled to open in the fall. The budget also includes some $5.2 million in capital improvements, $2.2 million of which will be raised through taxes and $3 million borrowed.” [Danbury News-Times, 5/6/14]


Boughton has raised taxes and fees to cover spending increases before…


Headline: “Boughton Proposes 4.5% Budget Hike.” The News-Times reported in April 2004 that, “Taxes on a $300,000 house would increase by $100 a year under Mayor Mark Boughton’s proposed $161 million budget. Payments from the state and federal governments, a decline in the personal property grand list, and higher costs for benefits caused the 4.5 percent increase in the proposed budget, Boughton said… Boughton has proposed cost-cutting programs, as well as ways to generate more money, including an increase in the city tax on gasoline sold at Danbury Municipal Airport. That fee would rise from a nickel per gallon today to 20 cents after July 1… Boughton proposed a new Office of Consumer Protection with two part-time workers, whose salaries would be paid by fees charged for testing scales and pumps at gas stations and grocery stores. This work was done by the state in the past.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/7/04]

Boughton Proposed Increasing Fees and Fines, Raising Water Bills by 32% and Sewer Bills by 18%. The News-Times reported in April 2004 that, “In an effort to drum up money for the city budget, Mayor Mark Boughton has proposed several measures to the Common Council that, if passed, would increase or create fees for a handful of city services. ’In order to diversify revenue streams, we’ve looked at sources other than taxes,’ Boughton said Tuesday. Two proposals would raise the average sewer bill by 18 percent and water bills by 32 percent, said city finance officials… Under one of the revenue generating proposals, the fire marshal’s office would create $50 to $100 fees for annual inspections of child care centers, nursing homes and businesses with liquor permits, among others. Annual inspections of three-family homes would cost $25 each. A proposed $150 fine for owners of apartments in violation of zoning rules is aimed at halting the tide of over-crowded apartments in the city, said Boughton… The fire marshal’s office and engineering division conduct mandatory reviews of proposed building projects, and new fees would be created for those… Of the site review fees, Boughton said, ‘if you don’t build million-dollar buildings, you won’t be affected by it.’ ‘These ordinances generate a significant amount of tax revenue that we don’t have to get from taxpayers,’ said Boughton.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/21/04]


Boughton’s “Status Quo” Budget Proposal Raised Taxes Up to 6%, Increased Spending by 5.7%. The News-Times reported in April 2008 that, “Mayor Mark Boughton presented a city budget with an increase of about 5.7 percent Monday and called for a variety of cost-saving measures, including possible staff reductions. Boughton gave the Common Council a plan that would increase total spending from about $191 million to approximately $202 million, but would reduce the mill rate about 4 percent, from the current 22.2 to 21.35 mills. The spending plan, if approved, could still mean a tax increase of between zero and six percent for residential homeowners, depending on the results of their revaluation, which is being phased in over the next four years. Boughton said the ‘status quo’ budget maintains city services and programs at current levels, while incorporating increases in utility costs and contractual obligations for personnel. ‘This is a pretty good nuts and bolts budget that maintains our services,’ he said before appointing a number of subcommittees to begin reviewing the plan.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/7/08]

Headline: “Danbury Fines On the Rise.” The News-Times reported in July 2008 that, “The Common Council is doubling the penalties for everything from blocking a driveway with your car to parking next to a fire hydrant… The fines, some of which were approved by the Common Council last month and will come into effect during the next 60 to 90 days, raise the dollar amount from $50 to $100 for a slew of violations. The Common Council is also clarifying local law, saying that it a fine for an existing violation in the code book does not mention a fine amount, the city may fine residents up to $250… Mayor Mark Boughton said the fines have not been updated in years. ‘Part of the increase is a deterrent factor, but mostly it is a recognition the fines have not been increased in a long time,’ Boughton said.” [Danbury News-Times, 7/21/08]


Boughton Proposed Budget That Increased Taxes by 1%, Tapped Into Reserve Account. The News-Times reported in April 2009 that, “Mayor Mark Boughton proposed a city budget Tuesday that calls for a slight tax increase — about one percent — and relatively flat spending over the current year… The proposed budget calls for reducing city spending by about $25,000 — from $202,295,259 to $202,270,205. Revenue, meanwhile, is expected to decrease by about $1 million, to $197.5 million, during the 2009-10 budget year, which begins July 1… Boughton has proposed using about $4 million from the city’s fund balance to make up the discrepancy… Despite taping into the city’s reserves, Boughton said, the fund balance will still be a healthy 8.6 percent of expenditures… The mayor said while the proposed spending involves almost no increase, the city’s grand list declined by about $8.4 million — resulting in the required tax increase of 0.31 mills — or about one percent. That means a tax bill of $5,000 this year will be $5,050 next year.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/8/09]


Previewing His Budget Proposal, Boughton Said It Would Include a “’Gentle’ Increase in Water and Sewer Rates for City Residents.” The News-Times reported in April 2010 that, “While he would only provide limited details in advance of his presentation, Boughton said there will be a ‘gentle’ increase in water and sewer rates for city residents, a tax freeze for seniors who qualify, and the Board of Education probably isn’t going to get all it asked for in 2010-11… Boughton said his budget proposal Tuesday will include a reasonable increase in the water and sewer rates charged to city residents as a result of increased costs. The last time the rates were increased, he said, was about three years ago. ‘Even after gentle increases are adopted, we will still have the lowest sewer and water rates in the state,’ Boughton said.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/6/10]


Boughton Proposed Budget with a “Gentle” 3% Tax Increase, $6.6 Million Increase in Spending. The News-Times reported in April 2011 that, “Mayor Mark Boughton on Tuesday night proposed a city budget that calls for a ‘gentle’ 3 percent tax increase while maintaining city services with no layoffs. The budget he presented to the City Council at its meeting Tuesday increases spending by about $6.6 million, for a total of nearly $216 million. Many city departments would receive the same or less money than in previous years. The Board of Education, which sought a $4.2 million increase, took one of the biggest hits. Boughton recommended trimming $3.2 million from the request, leaving just $1 million over current spending… While the budget reflects a reduction in general government spending of about $160,000, most of the increases come from pension obligations and debt service.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/6/11]


Boughton Proposed Budget with a 3.5% Tax Hike, $4.38 Million Increase in Spending. The News-Times reported in April 2012 that, “Mayor Mark Boughton unveiled a proposed $220 million budget before the City Council on Tuesday night that calls for a nearly 3.5 percent tax increase in the 2012-13 fiscal year. The total spending package represents a $4.38 million increase over the current fiscal year. That increase would include $1.8 million more for the city’s pension payments, for a total payment of $9.5 million into the fund.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/3/12]


Boughton Proposed a $7.25 Million Increase in Spending, 19% Increase in the Mill Rate. The News-Times reported in April 2013 that, “Local officials say the majority of city homeowners aren’t going pay more in taxes in the coming fiscal year despite a proposed $7.25 million hike in spending. Mayor Mark Boughton presented his budget package before the City Council on Thursday, calling for a 3.3 percent increase and a total spending package of $227 million. The increased spending would come from hikes in capital improvement costs, health insurance increases and an additional $2.5 million for the city’s school system. While the proposed mill rate may climb by as much as 19 percent as a result of last year’s property revaluation, most homeowners would not see that level of increases in their tax bills, he said.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/4/13]

…And left schools on the short end…


Boughton’s  FY14-15 Budget Includes A $1.4 Million Difference Between The Board Of Education’s Request And The Mayor’s Proposed Budget, Which Boughton Said, “This Will Not Be An Easily Achievable Goal To Close The Funding Gap Of This Size.” “The FY 14-15 Proposed Budget will include an appropriation for the Board of Education of $121,795,291 million, an increase of $3.5 million from the FY 2013-2014 Adopted Budget. The amount was increased for the FY 2014-2015 Proposed Budget to help offset some of the onetime non-capital expenses associated with the Vision 2020 Project renovation and expansion of the schools project. The Board of Education had requested $123.2 million ($123.0 for the BOE and $0.2 for Headstart- both are combined for comparative purposes), an increase of $4.9 million. I realize that this will not be an easily achievable goal to close the funding gap of this size. Nevertheless, the standard will continue to be set high for the Board of Education to partner with the City to slow the spending growth trend to levels the community can afford. I firmly believe that by continuing to work together, especially given the expected recommendations from the SMARTGOV initiative, the City and BOE staff can reduce, if not eliminate, the gap through various cost cutting measures, maximizing efficiencies and utilizing other revenue sources.” [Danbury FY14-15 Proposed Budget]

Headline: “School Board Gets Less Than It Requested.” The News-Times reported in April 2004 that, “Mayor Mark Boughton proposed an $89.5 million education package for 2004-05 Tuesday night as part of his $161 million spending plan for the city. The education proposal, $4 million more than the current school budget of $85.5 million, is an increase of 4.6 percent but is about $3 million less than the Board of Education requested to run the city’s 17 schools. ‘We all recognize that we need to balance expenditures with what taxpayers can afford to pay,’ Boughton said Tuesday.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/7/04]

Headline: “Danbury Mayor Wants No Increase in School Budget.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/8/09]

Boughton Said His Budget Wouldn’t Grant the Board of Education’s Request for a 3% Increase in Funding. The News-Times reported in April 2009 that, “He added that the education board’s proposed three percent budget increase — from $112 to $115 million – ‘is not even up for discussion.’ ‘There is no way the taxpayers can afford that this year,’ he said. Education board chairwoman Susan Podhajski said the fact that the schools’ budget request will not be fully funded comes as no surprise.” [Danbury News-Times, 4/6/09]

…While Danbury’s state ECS grants have more than doubled


Danbury ECS Grants:

2000-01: 13,645,882

2001-02: 14,161,519

2002-03: 15,076,499

2003-04: 15,245,564

2004-05: 16,280,329

2005-06: 17,373,813

2006-07: 17,588,819

2007-08: 21,894,594

2008-09: 22,857,956

2009-10: 22,857,956

2010-11: 22,857,956

2011-12: 22,857,956

2012-13: 24,554,515

2013-14: 27,294,245

2014-15: 29,554,523

[Connecticut State Department of Education, Bureau of Grants Management, ECS Entitlements, accessed 5/9/14]; Office of Fiscal Analysis Municipal Aid Summary, 5/7/14]

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