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Make The Time: 'Zero Increase' Budget Vote Today

The first "zero increase" budget in recent memory is now before voters in the annual budget referendum. Qualified voters may cast bifurcated, or split town and school budget ballots, in person today, April 22, at Newtown Middle School until 8 pm.

On April 2, the council endorsed sending a request for $111,066,204 to voters to cover town and school services, along with annual debt service for capital projects, which is carried in the Board of Selectmen budget.

While the approved budget request represents a 0.91 percent increase in spending above the current year, because of updated revenue projections, the spending plan requires 0.02 percent less in taxation than the current operating budget — and will require a 2014-15 tax rate of 33.31 mills, representing no change, or what is commonly termed “zero increase.”

Those added revenues included $562,000 in grand list growth, $275,000 in additional supplemental motor vehicle taxes, and $152,000 in unanticipated or previously unbudgeted state grants and payments.

Voters will decide on separate requests by the Board of Education for $71,345,304 (0.42 percent increase), and the Board of Selectmen for $39,720,900 (1.78 percent increase), which includes debt service of $10,342,994 (2.8 percent increase).

As a result of a recent charter change, eligible voters will also be asked to approve or reject each budget line, as well as an advisory question on whether they believe each budget request is too low.

Today’s referendum ballot has four Yes-No questions, including a pair of Advisory Questions (#2 and #4, below):

1. Shall the sum of $39,720,900 be appropriated as the budget for the Board of Selectmen for the fiscal year?

2. Do you deem the proposed sum of $39,720,900 to be appropriated for the Board of Selectmen as “too low”?

3. Shall the sum of $71,345,304 be appropriated for the budged for the Board of Education for the fiscal year?

4. Do you deem the proposed sum of $71,345,304 to be appropriated for the Board of Education as “too low”?

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