City passes balanced budget, calls for 5.4 percent tax rate increase

NORWICH – After nearly two hours of hearing public concerns and deliberation, the Norwich Common Council passed a 2016 budget on Tuesday that’s balanced and prevents any layoffs of city employees.

Despite early fears that taxpayers would see a double-digit tax rate increase, the $8.4 million general fund spending plan calls for just a 5.4 percent tax increase.

It was a sticky budget process for the city council this year. While city officials have approved deficit spending in recent years and drew from reserve accounts to make up the difference, that wasn’t an option this year as those accounts have nearly dried up.

In November, Norwich officials made a proposal to cut four full-time and five part-time employees from the Norwich Fire Department – a maneuver that was thwarted by a number of concessions made by the Norwich Firefighters Association and the forfeiture of a contracted two percent salary increase among all city employees.

The third and final amendment of the 2016 budget included elimination of funds to replace the outgoing deputy city clerk who’s set to retire at the beginning of the year. The city will see a net savings of $60,000 by not refilling that position.

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