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Newtown Passes Budgets, Capital Projects Despite Low Turnout



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With less than nine of every 100 qualified voters heading to the polls April 27 including a relative handful (59) who opted for 'no excuse' absentee ballots, Newtown shuttled in a 2021-22 spending plan totaling $123,219,554 - that nonetheless reduced residential taxes by a small margin, marking a second consecutive year of tax cuts.

Around 4:30 pm, just over 900 votes had been cast at the Middle School polls. But by closing time at 8 pm, another 800-plus rallied and turned out - still only representing 8.98% of the 19,103 residents eligible to weigh in on the next year's budget requests and most costly capital projects.

According to local registrars who announced the final ballot counts at the Newtown Middle School gym just before 9 pm Tuesday night, the municipal and school district requests both passed, along with three capital spending authorizations - including one that will complete the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial.

Registrar LeReine Frampton notified The Newtown Bee that the municipal budget proposal passed 1,196 - 521; and that the school budget was approved 1,081 - 640.

(The municipal budget annually contains all debt service for capital bonding, including for all school district projects.)

The $43,521,856 municipal spending package - with a 1.3% spending bump, was approved. Similarly, voters okayed the school board's request for $79,697,698, also representing a 1.3% spending increase.

But leading up to its final recommendations, Legislative Council members worked with town officials combining grand list growth revenue, a fund balance overage, and other savings to affect a mill rate reduction of .32 — from the current year’s 34.76 down to 34.65 for tax bills going out July 1.

A mill represents one dollar for every $1,000 in taxable property. This proposal represented the second consecutive year of mill rate reductions. In 2020, the mill rate decreased by 0.03 percent.

Voters also endorsed three capital bonding authorizations:

*$1.5 million for a gas boiler and LED lighting upgrade at Reed Intermediate School, which passed 1,247 - 472;

*$3.7 million for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial, which passed 963 - 748; and

*$5,041,933 for the remaining balance on a local emergency radio and communications system upgrade, which passed 1,294 - 421.

Voters were asked to authorize the balance because in 2020, under an executive order due to COVID-19, the Legislative Council authorized $2.5 million for the first phase of the $7.5 million improvement.

The funds authorized last year primarily paid for hardware and equipment that was necessary to order far in advance of the installation, which will commence now that the rest of the funding is approved.

A Newtown voter heads home from the polls at Newtown Middle School at about 5:30 pm April 27, as the community awaited the outcome of its 2021-22 municipal and school budget referenda, which also included several capital spending authorizations. According to town registrars, all ballot measures passed with just under 9 percent of eligible voters casting in-person or absentee ballots. - Bee Photo, Voket
Three-year-old Spencer Perna seems to have other plans as he and his dad Gabriel headed into the polls for the 2021-22 Newtown Budget referendum at Newtown Middle School April 27. - Bee Photo, Voket
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