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Norwalk : Sales Tax Drop Hits Budget

June 25, 1987

The Norwalk City Council has approved a $24.8-million budget for fiscal 1987-88, with law enforcement the largest single expenditure at $5.1 million. The new budget is only $200,000 larger than this year's budget.

Because of a projected drop of $780,000 in sales tax revenue--the biggest single source of income for the city of 87,000 residents--there is only one capital project budgeted for next year. The council agreed to spend $85,000 on improvements at Little Lake Park. Otherwise, the loss of sales tax revenue coupled with the end of federal revenue sharing forced city officials to "hold the line" on spending, said Wiley Jung, the city's finance director.

The loss of federal revenue sharing money, Jung said, is a "major blow" to the city. Two years ago, Norwalk received as much as $700,000, which was spent on police protection. Congress last year halted the program which gave money to local government. The result, Jung said, has been to take money earmarked for capital projects to pay for police. "What we are doing is postponing things like new furniture for City Hall or purchasing new city vehicles," Jung said. "It's going to be tight for a few years."

As part of the new budget, the council also raised trash collection rates 13% from $20.10 to $22.70 per quarter--or $10.40 a year. After police protection, the city's largest expenditure is for public works, about $55.1 million for street maintenance and sweeping, signals, medians, street lights and tree trimming.

The new budget includes a raise for council members beginning next May, when their monthly stipend will go from $674.36 to $690, or $8,280 a year. The council's travel budget for fiscal 1987-88 is $40,000, unchanged from this year.

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