Are residents content with the information that the Legislative Council recently approved an overall budget of $117,121,198 that bumps up spending 2.35 percent from last year, or do residents consider this of little interest? (Of that, $76,054,231 represents the school district budget, with the remaining $41,066,967 representing the municipal budget side.)
In addition to these budgets, on April 24 voters will be asked to authorize bonding $1.5 million, dedicated to improving our roads; and nearly $1.7 million to replace the roof at Middle Gate School. (Residents will also be asked later this year to support a new police station, an as-yet undetermined cost, and not included in this referendum.)
The temperature of the town regarding the annual budget is usually easy to take by the week before the vote. This year, holding the hand to the forehead of the community is registering not a lot of heat.
Hopefully, this does not bode an even smaller turnout of eligible voters than the sad number that usually determines how money is spent to keep the wheels turning. The privilege to vote is snubbed by many in a very important process.
Our elected and appointed members — people who live and work here, remember — of the various boards in town have fine-tuned the budgets, giving and taking to ensure that residents receive value from each dollar spent and that the many departments required to keep a town running are properly funded. How the community views these computations is reliant on public input along the way — and votes on Tuesday.
Good schools are a draw to newcomers and preserve property values; safe roads and a safe community are vital. Maintaining town properties is critical to putting our best foot forward, and in a town that seeks growth, that is important. Keeping pace with technology is not an option, but a costly necessity.
Not everyone will agree on where money is spent — in some areas, it may seem too little, in others, not enough. How much is an acceptable escalation of doing business is up to the voters.
Voting on the municipal and school budgets as separate items allows residents to prioritize what they believe is needed to carry on the quality of life we enjoy. Should either or both budgets fail, your voice as to the cost being too high or too low will guide officials as they adapt for a second referendum.
There is a price to pay for living in a town as beautiful as Newtown. Balancing the price of livability will never be easy.
But to maintain the community that has attracted and kept residents for its 300-plus years, we have to tighten the belt in some places and open ourselves to opportunities in others.
Support for the budget on April 24 will send a message that we are willing to pay to live in a thriving community. Defeating this budget means a willingness to forego outstanding projects and compromising opportunities for young and old alike.
Your vote determines Newtown’s future — but only if you show up at the Newtown Middle School on April 24 and vote.