After months of work sessions, the Westminster mayor and Common Council’s recently approved 2023 fiscal plans for the city include a capital budget of $47.6 million and a total operating budget of $32.5 million.
The approved budget contains no increase in the real property tax rate for the 10th consecutive year. The city will maintain a tax rate of 56 cents per $100 of assessed value. Expected increases in property values means the city stands to collect more in fiscal 2023 from that tax rate, as the constant yield rate was set at 54 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The budget also includes an increase for water and sewer rates, as part of a staggered multiyear plan that the council voted for in May 2018. Water rates increase by 3.5% and sewer rates by 5%.
Mayor Mona Becker, whose proposed budget was unanimously approved by the council on May 23, highlighted several projects that she said would be “critical to Westminster’s economic growth for the future.” She mentioned improvements to pedestrian safety in the city’s downtown area, enhancements to the Westminster Police Department and funding to address inflow/infiltration into the city’s sewer system.
Becker also noted funding for capital improvement projects such as Wakefield Valley Park enhancements, Westminster clock tower renovations, Westminster Municipal Pool upgrades and PUREWater Westminster — a water recycling project that will address the inadequate supply of available drinking water.
“When we put together this budget, we were focused on being fiscally responsible not only for this year but also using this budget as a road map for planning for the finances of the City of Westminster,” Becker said.
Westminster council member Tony Chiavacci, who serves as chairman of Westminster’s Public Safety Commission, said he is pleased that the budget includes no tax increase and improvements for public safety. The budget highlights funding for the implementation of a body-worn camera program and the purchase of a new generator for police department headquarters.
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“I’m excited that we’re able to get the police the things that they need to continue to do their job — a lot of the training that our police department does is not free,” Chiavacci said.
Westminster is slated to receive $18 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress last year aimed at providing financial support to millions of Americans. So far, Westminster has received $9 million from ARPA, the budget states.
“[The ARPA funds] will be utilized across city departments and infrastructure development,” Becker said.
Westminster council member Daniel Hoff, who has a background in real estate and insurance, said he was “thrilled” that the city was able to construct a budget without increasing taxes for the 10th consecutive year.
“We’re in an inflationary environment right now and I think it’s a testament to the long-term smart planning that Westminster has done over the years. … I think that’s fantastic and we’re planning well for the future,” Hoff said.
Becker expressed similar sentiments.
“This year’s budget enables us to visualize and think for long-term planning, especially for some of the large projects that we have on the horizon,” she said.