In 10 years time, can you afford your taxes? The choice is OURS.
Fairfield’s overall budget has grown 104 percent cumulatively over the past 14 years, 2.6 times that of inflation which was up 40 percent. (Was your household income up 40 percent since 1999?). The key drivers, doubling spending over that period were employee pensions, employee healthcare costs, a population growth in our school system and poorly managed capital projects (Fairfield Metro Station and Penfield Pavilion being just two examples). This year’s proposed tax increase is 6.4 percent, accelerating to over three times the inflation rate.
Let’s look at what will happen over next 10 years -- based on choices WE taxpayers are making. If Fairfield’s annual budget grows like it has historically (call this “business as usual”) our taxes will sky rocket. Shown below are, the forecasted 2024 budget levels and taxes assuming our budget grows at the historic 2.6 times inflation, assumed at 2 percent annually for this illustration. Also shown is what we’ll call a “Frugal Alternative”: what the budget will be if, somehow, Fairfield is able to curb its spending and hold budget growth at the 2 percent assumed rate of inflation. (See the attached graph).
Neither case -- “Business as Usual” or “Frugal” -- is particularly good news for taxpayers, unless one’s income growth nicely exceeds the inflation rate – something that is difficult in today’s economy.
What does all this mean for YOUR taxes? As shown in the table below, under the “Business as Usual” scenario taxes on today’s Fairfield home will rise 67 percent from today’s level. For example, the $8,705 tax bill on a $500,000 home will jump to $14,537 in ten years. “Frugal” spending will lead to taxes of $10,968, a 26 percent rise from today:
Budget Growth Result on Property Taxes2023 "Bus. As Usual" "Frugal" Home Price 2013 (2.6 x Inflation) (1 x Inflation) $500,000 $8,705 $14,537 $10,968 $800,000 $13,927 $23,258 $17,548 $1,500,000 $26,114 $43,610 $32,903 $3,000,000 $52,227 $87,219 $65,806
We all know it’s not easy to hold our town’s spending down. Citizens want more services. Many contractual obligations, unless changed, will continue to drive our spending higher -- most likely at a rate well beyond inflation. That makes it imperative that we help our town find efficiency in all aspects its operation -- from education to police, firemen, public works, recreation, etc. And, we need to make clear to our elected officials what town services we no longer find of value.
The choice is ours. But, most important, let’s make sure we have a plan -- enabling us to make a conscious decision as to where we are going as a town. It is all about what we choose to pay for and what services we value. Stay tuned to Fairfield Taxpayer's website for how our community thinks spending can be reduced. We are close to a first step in uncovering much needed answers.
Finally, come speak out at the Board of Finance meeting on Saturday, March 23 at 9:30 a.m. at the Fairfield Senior Center, 100 Mona Terrace. It’s the last chance for citizens to be heard before the BOF votes on the budget.
– Fairfield Taxpayer