NEW MILFORD — Voters rejected a combined $101.6 million budget, which is about $583,000 more than the current year.
Voters approved the $38.3 million town budget 1,506 to 1,422 votes, but rejected the schools’ $63.3 million budget 1,543 to 1,394 votes.
Based on the town charter, the entire budget fails and town and school budgets will return to the Town Council for revision before another referendum.
”We’re going to work on making a budget the people can approve,” Mayor Pete Bass said.
Bass said he thinks Tuesday’s storm may have affected turnout because roads were blocked, but the registrar’s office said the vote still counts because all of the polling places were open until 8 p.m. The polling site at Hill and Plain lost power for a bit.
The proposed budget included using about $1.2 million from the undesignated fund, as well as increasing the tax rate 3.87 percent.
This figure is about $700,000 more than what Town Council approved, when it decided to keep the school funding the same as the current year and cut town spending by about $120,000. Council’s decision sparked an outcry from residents.
Last month, the finance board voted to put $500,000 back in the schools budget to cover some of the schools contractual or required increases, such as special education.
The Board of Finance added $702,000 in spending to the town budget proposal going to voters, including $500,000 for the schools.
The finance board also approved restoring the fire departments’ $250,000 shared capital contribution, a position in the youth agency, self-sustaining grant programs at the Maxx and Youth Agency and $80,000 for the Visiting Nurse Association.
The finance board’s addition is covered by pulling the $702,000 from the undesignated fund, which the town’s finance director advised against.