It is not uncommon for people working in a newspaper office to hear themselves described by others as having their fingers on the pulse of the town. But from where we sit, the business of community assessment and diagnosis is not as simple as that. Newtown’s lifeblood flows from myriad hearts beating, at times, in cacophonous syncopation. And rarely is it more difficult to discern what the heart of the town is telling us than in the wake of a failed budget referendum.
The Legislative Council’s Ordinance Committee fielded a range of public comments April 11 on a proposal to rework the town’s gun ordinance to better address the various issues, including public safety, posed by target shooting on residential properties.
Mary Ann Jacob, who chairs the committee, said she expects that the panel’s review of the topic would take several months to complete, possibly extending into the fall.
In a 9-3 vote April 3, the Legislative Council moved a budget request of $111,149,825 to an April 23 referendum. If approved the budget would increase spending about 4.7 percent over the current year, while generating a 5.24 percent tax increase according to Town Finance Director Robert Tait.
Because of this year’s revaluation, with average property values dropping markedly, an approved budget would bump the current 24.54 mill rate to 33.77. A mill represents one dollar in taxation for every $1,000 in taxable property.
Following the shortest public budget hearing in recent memory, the council will take up deliberations on the 2013-14 proposal with the possibility of acting on the request as early as April 3, according to council Chairman Jeff Capeci.
Only three citizens addressed the council during the approximately 20-minute session. In previous years, public hearings have swelled to the extent that they were held in the high school lecture room and auditorium.