Ridgefield reduces tax rate using portion of American Rescue Plan funds

The Board of Finance Tuesday night codified a provision in this year's budget that reduces the tax rate from 1.7 percent to 0.3 percent. The reduction was made possible through use of the town's American Rescue Plan monies, which initially totaled roughly $7.4 million. Pictured, First Selectman Rudy Marconi addresses residents at the 2021 State of the Town address.

The Board of Finance Tuesday night codified a provision in this year’s budget that reduces the tax rate from 1.7 percent to 0.3 percent. The reduction was made possible through use of the town’s American Rescue Plan monies, which initially totaled roughly $7.4 million. Pictured, First Selectman Rudy Marconi addresses residents at the 2021 State of the Town address.

Alyssa Seidman / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

RIDGEFIELD — The Board of Finance this week codified a provision in this year’s budget that reduces the tax rate from 1.7 percent to 0.3 percent. The reduction was made possible through use of the town’s American Rescue Plan monies, which initially totaled roughly $7.4 million.

About $1.5 million of the federal stimulus was used to replace revenue that Ridgefield missed out on due to the pandemic, Board Chairman Dave Ulmer said at Tuesday’s meeting. With the offset, residents will only see a 0.3 percent increase on their taxes.

“It’s a way of giving money back to the taxpayers and replacing money that we didn’t get in 2020 and 2021,” Ulmer added. “We may use some more in the future ... but we’d prefer to seek public input than make these decisions on our own.”

The town has established an informal working group to make determinations on how to use the remaining funds based on guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department, which has yet to be finalized.

As with normal budgetary proceedings, the expenditures would have to be approved via public hearings, town meetings or a natural referendum, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.

“The purpose of the working group is to decipher the interim final report and be able to define it clearly and succinctly,” he added. “The next step would be creating various buckets of requests for projects, (which) may be arts, education, infrastructure.”

The group comprises representatives from Ridgefield’s Tri-Board, including: Marconi and Selectman Bob Hebert; Kenneth Sjoberg and Tina Malhotra from the Board of Education; and Mike Rettger and Greg Kabasakalian from the Board of Finance. Economic & Community Development Commission Vice Chairman Geoffery Morris was invited to join as a seventh member.

While the group awaits further instruction, the Western Connecticut Council of Governments has sent out a RFP for a consultant to aid the area’s municipalities as they decide how to approach their respective ARPA allocation.

Marconi explained that if Ridgefield wanted to solicit the consultant’s services, the cost would be borne by the town.

At the State of the Town address earlier this summer, Marconi said the group would “move forward cautiously” concerning the federal dollars. “When we spend the money from ARP, we need to be sure that we spend it in a way that's going to help everyone for the future.”

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com