The town budget passed at its second referendum Thursday night by 140 votes, with 2,774 yeses and 2,634 no votes. Voter turnout was higher this time – 32 percent over the first vote’s 27 percent. But the margin was smaller. The same budget was defeated May 5 by a margin of 327 votes.
“It certainly was an interesting way we got here but this is the way the process is set up,” Town Council Chairman Mike Clark said Thursday night. “People voted and they certainly sent a statement to us today that they support the budget. Now we can get back to doing what we do best. We’re a great town that provides really efficient services and an outstanding education to our children.”
The process included the May 5 defeat of the budget, which forced the Town Council to reduce the budget. The council cut $750,000 from the budget, with $450,000 coming from the education budget. The Board of Education translated the reduction into the loss of four teachers and reductions across the grades. Those cuts triggered a parent outcry that mustered enough votes to restore the $750,000 to the budget, causing the Town Council’s original budget to return to the ballots Thursday.
The budget passed with a 3.22 percent increase in spending and a 3.97 percent tax increase. The increase raises the town’s expected mill rate to 21.27 mills.
Of the four precincts, only Irving A. Robbins Middle School defeated the budget, by 73 votes. At West Woods Upper Elementary, 273 voted in favor and 271 against. The Community Center voters were also close: 911 yes and 598 no. At the Farmington Library, 767 yes votes were cast and 598 no.