Newtown begins 2014 next week with more momentum and resolve than any turning of the New Year we can remember. Coming off a year in which stock-taking was a daily priority and not simply saved for last days of December, the community is primed to get started.
For a little more than an hour during their October 24 meeting, members of the finance board, Acting School Superintendent John Reed and Board of Education Chair Debbie Leidlein conducted a candid discussion about the upcoming budget process. Finance board Chairman John Kortze said he had asked the school officials to visit with his board early on in the process.
This letter is an entreaty to the voters of Newtown to support the education budget at this third referendum scheduled for Tuesday, June 4. The budget request as it stands now calls for a year over year increase of 3.93 percent, having been further reduced by the Legislative Council in response to the failed second referendum.
After about two hours of community input, deliberations and two failed amendments, the Legislative Council voted 9-3 to further reduce the school district’s budget request by $300,000. If approved at a planned third round referendum June 4, that would drop requested Board of Education increase to 3.93 percent
Voters already passed the municipal budget request in a split May 14 referendum. Upon approval, the district budget would stand at $71,045,304.
What is the message in this new pattern of budget rejections? There may be some plausible factors that are emerging that were not previously evident in the past. Every election result represents the thinking of those who voted. In this most recent defeat of the budget, there seems to be a segment of the population that is unwilling to support the sharp rise in the mill rate that will increase the real estate taxes of some seniors by 30 percent.
With the eyes of a nation still interested, and somewhat curious about how the town moves forward. the message is clear: We don’t really care that much. For the second time this spring one out of three eligible voters managed to make it to the polls. Apparently the other 2/3rds of the voters are very busy and don’t have the time. Not my problem so to speak… Just like every other year… Status quo… Really?