Log In

Reset Password

Go Out And Vote April 23



Text Size

The referendum for the proposed 2024-25 municipal and school budgets is set for next Tuesday, April 23.

The Newtown Bee has been covering the budget process since January and hopes that our readers have been following along at home to see the budgetary process as it progressed.

Following the Board of Finance’s review in February, the bottom line for the Board of Education went to $88,817,373, a $3,747,722 or 4.4% increase over last year. The Board of Education had approved $89,826,756, a $4,747,105 or 5.56% increase. The municipal budget was approved by the BOF without cuts to its bottom line of $48,834,506, a $1,308,366 or 2.75 percent spending increase.

The overall budget currently stands at $137,651,879, a $5,056,088 or 3.7% spending increase. The mill rate is currently proposed to increase from 26.24 to 27.24, a 1 mill or 3.82% tax increase.

Following an extensive review by the Legislative Council in March, the council voted on split party lines to send the Board of Finance’s approved budget to the voters. Early votes containing cuts to the proposed increase as high as $900,000 to the Board of Education were rejected — and a steeper cut to the proposed increase of nearly $1.5 million never reached a vote.

With the hard work of the town’s elected bodies finished, it is now up to the voters to weigh in — and Newtown’s voters have been notorious about taking a pass on voting over the past few budget years.

In 2023, Newtown saw increased participation at its April budget vote with a turnout of approximately 8.8 percent, the first year of increased participation after years of waning participation, especially following the COVID pandemic. In 2022, participation was only 7.7 percent; in 2021, the turnout was 8.98 percent; in 2020, there was no budget referendum due to the pandemic; in 2019, turnout was 17 percent; in 2018, turnout was 15.7 percent; and in 2017, turnout was 19.9 percent.

Even at the 2017 level, the turnout was too low for such an important decision affecting every Newtown resident, in their pocketbooks, in their property values, and in their quality of life. Obviously, maintaining services keeps quality of life high and thus property values up, while it also gives residents some say in how much they will pay in property taxes. Many residents saw some increase in their assessments and property taxes due to large increases in home values across the country last year.

Over the past decade, the Town finance director and school district business office have both worked to make the actual budget proposals not only accessible, but also readable and informative — even if you are not intimately familiar with the language of municipal budget development.

The Newtown Bee asks all residents of Newtown to get out and cast a vote on this referendum. While cutting budgets often means kicking the can down the road and paying more to get the same thing later, it is hard to argue that the last few years have been difficult on everyone financially, and there’s no shame in someone voting to preserve their wallet. The Newtown Bee itself takes no position on the outcome of the referendum, other than to say both viewpoints for and against the budget have strong and valid arguments, and so one hopes that the eventual outcome of the vote reflects the will of as many of Newtown’s residents as possible.

Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. qstorm says:

    Cutting the school budget should mean consolidating schools and cutting redundant heads. Instead we give raises. There is no meaningful way to manage these budgets by voting. 90+ of us know this.

  2. newtown29 says:

    Unfortunately as voter turnout continues to decline the chances of it increasing also decline. The LC and BOF already know that the budget will be approved by virtue of the low turnout so why try to make smart decisions? The so-called referendum is essentially just a rubber stamp. They will continue to increase the budget by 2-5% every year because it’s low enough to not cause a pushback under the cover of “inflation” and “maintaining the schools.” Sending the budget to vote with 9% turnout is meaningless and a waste of resources on April 23rd.

Leave a Reply