Polling is open in Newtown Middle School’s gym, 11 Queen Street, from 6 am to 8 pm today, April 23, for qualified residents and property owners to cast ballots on the proposed townwide budget request.
The referendum marks the first time budget voters can extend approval or denial to the town and school proposals separately. A charter revision splitting, or bifurcating, the budget ballot was approved in 2012 and is now in effect.
Voters are also being asked to answer two budget questions — one relating to each side of the request. Those questions ask voters whether the proposed sums of the town and school request are too low.
Earlier this month, the council moved a budget request of $111,149,825 to referendum — $72,095,304 in school district spending requests, and a town-side request of $39,054,520 — which includes $10,058,924 in debt service on committed school and town capital borrowing.
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.
Those who cannot cast a vote in person may, were asked to cast votes during special absentee balloting hours last Saturday, in the town clerk’s office at the Newtown Municipal Center, or pick up and file a ballot Monday, April 22.
The Newtown PTA/PTSAS are encouraging residents to vote by sharing a “Did you vote today?” flyer, with the time and location to vote.
“Our goal is to remind our entire Newtown community to get out and vote,” wrote Newtown Middle School PTA President Jen Scarangella in a letter to NMS parents on Monday, April 22.
The PTA/PTSAS also purchased “I Voted Today” stickers to hand out at the polls this year, according to Ms Scarangella.
In another endeavor to remind residents to vote, following school tradition, Head O’ Meadow students voted in their own referendum the day before the polls opened for Newtown: students were asked to vote for which category of books they would like purchased for the school’s library. The effort taught students how to vote, using a ballot and voting machine.
A further look at this year’s proposed townwide budget is available here.