As budget season begins, it might be helpful for us to understand where Scotland fits in among Connecticut towns. Posted on this page is Municipal Fiscal Indicators,
a document that compiles statistics about our wealth, expenditures, tax rates, school costs, etc., relative to the other 168 towns in the state.
The report is long and comprehensive, and it's worth going through if you want to see just how we rank. But here are some of the highlights. The first column is a dollar amount or percentage, the second is our state ranking: (Except as otherwise noted, these are 2018 numbers, the most recent that the state provides.)
Local Tax per capita: $2,594 113
Property tax % of total revenue 73.6% 97
State/Federal funds as % of revenue 24.9% 63
Per capita income $37,743 124
Median Household Income $89,000 86
Per Pupil Expenditure (SES)* $24,280 25
Per Pupil Expenditure (RSD11)* $25,234 10
Adjusted Equalized Net Grand List $95,893 144
Equalized Grand List** $159,566,579 168
Equalized Mill Rate** 28 19
Per Capita Municipal Debt $1,195 104
To me, these numbers show that there are large discrepancies between how little wealth we have as a town, relative to the rest of the state, and how much we spend on government, particularly on education. We are the 25th from the bottom in collective wealth, while the local school is 25th from the top, and the regional school is 10th from the top. We are next to last in grand list, and our tax rate is the 19th highest in the state. n the other hand, it is important to see that we receive more state and federal funding than 106 of the other towns in the state, our median household income is just about in the middle of all the towns, and our debt load is lower than most towns'.
Still, this situation is not easy now, and it is not going to get easier without structural changes in the way we fund education (or in the schools that we fund) and other aspects of local government. In addition, in recent years, to keep our taxes from getting even higher, the town has deferred critical maintenance of buildings and bridges. We have recently received reports indicating that the impending costs run into the millions of dollars, some of which can be provided through state or federal programs, but most of which will have to come from us. We are currently using these estimates to create a 5-year capital plan, and this year we must begin to build those expenses into our budget. The reports can be found here
I have been in touch with Mae Flexer, our state senator, and other people in state government. Senator Flexer in particular is dedicated to helping us. She has introduced legislation to provide Scotland with $400,000 annually for the next two years for fiscal stabilization. In addition, she is exploring other sources of funding.
I am hopeful these efforts will succeed, but even if they do, there are difficult times ahead. I hope we can work together this budget season to find solutions that are the least burdensome to the hardworking people of Scotland. And as always, please feel free to email me with questions, etc., or attend a BOS meeting to discuss whatever you want.
*These figures come from the Department of Education and are available here
. They are from 2018-19.
**Equalized amounts are a derived from a complex formula designed to make statistics comparable between towns. Scotland's tax rate is 42.65 and its grand list is approximately $111 million.