Yesterday’s budget referendum, which would have provided the town and schools with a mill rate increase of 2.39 %,  failed at the polls.  Without much media attention or focus on the budget this year, turnout was a very low 24.97 %.  With voter apathy being a much bigger hurdle than any vote no or vote yes campaign, a second referendum is scheduled for April 22.

The failed budget would have increased overall spending by 2.6 %, with the BOE increase at 1.84 %.  The mill rate would have increased to 31.14.

Town council members present at Town Hall last night expressed frustration that the budget failed, stating that the boards and commissions had spent hours vetting the budget to it’s the lowest possible point.  “We worked together this year better than we ever have in the past.  Everyone was in agreement:  this was the best budget we could produce.”

First Selectman Steve Vavrek will hold a charter required joint meeting of Town Council, Board of Finance and Board of Education within the next seven days to determine what the next budget will look like. He can add funds, he can cut funds, or he can leave the budget untouched before sending it back to the voters.  This meeting has not been scheduled as of yet.

Superintendent James Agostine has been very active this budget season, presenting the Board of Education budget to PTOs, seniors and other groups around town.  “If we have to sustain a cut, it will be painful,” he stated at a recent Parents’ Council meeting.  “We presented a lean, honest budget.  Cuts will mean staffing and programs.”

Voters will return to the polls on April 22.

Voting results are as follows:

Fawn Hollow – District 1 – Yes: 416 No: 492 Difference: -76
Stepney – District 2 – Yes: 224 No: 205 Difference: +19
Monroe Elementary – District 3 – Yes: 230 No: 310 Difference: -80
Masuk – District 4 – Yes: 472 No: 564 Difference: -92
Grand List – Yes: 5 No: 5 Difference: 0

Total – Yes: 1,347 (46.08%) No: 1,576 (53.92%)

The budget fails by 229.

Turnout (w/o grand list): 2,913 Votes Cast/11,668 Registered Voters (24.97%)