The massive effort to pass Farmington's 2012-13 budget included thousands of phone calls, hundreds of flyers and dozens of hours speaking at Town Council meetings and to parents on soccer fields, playgrounds and at school concerts.
For the dozens of parent volunteers, the effort was exhausting. But in the end, it resulted in 2,288 yes votes, and it was enough: the budget passed by 605 votes, with just 25 percent of voters turning out.
For the parents, it was a nerve-racking day. At 1 p.m., voter turnout hovered around 10 percent. At 5 p.m., it was reported at just 16 percent. Farmington Future members and other volunteers continued a campaign of phone calls, reaching out to every parent, urging them to get to the polls.
“We put in a lot of effort, made a lot of phone calls and got people to understand the budget and even educated people that the referendum exists and that it’s important to have a say in how your town is run,” said Liz Fitzsimmons, who with Beth Kintner leads the budget advocacy group Farmington Future. “We had a great group of people who were very supportive.”
And it worked. At 7:39 p.m. at the Community Center, several parents came rushing in, young kids in tow. Many had on baseball uniforms, one child was in stocking feet.
Lou Rossitto was one of those parents.
“I got here because I was encouraged by all the flyers, hearing about it at every event I attended and I saw the numbers and the consequences [of the budget failing]. Even the kids knew,” he said.
Another parent, who had been at a sporting event, rushed in at exactly 7:59 p.m.
Farmington Future leaders and volunteers grinned and thanked each parent who came through the door. Board of Education Chairman Mary Grace Reed greeted them.
“I’m proud of every single parent and individual that made the effort to get the vote out and to vote and to understand the budget and know how much we need this budget,” Reed said after unofficial votes were tallied. “Thank you, Farmington.”
Town Council members, volunteers and apparently voters echoed a common theme: the $90.3 million proposal is a good budget.
“It’s a good budget and people realized that,” said Town Council Chairman Jeff Hogan at Town Hall Thursday night. “People appreciate the value they get in Farmington.”
The $90,335,142 2012-13 town budget includes a 3.1 percent increase in spending over 2011-12 — with a 2.75 percent increase in education spending and 2.28 percent increase in town operating expenses as well as $1.8 million for capital projects.Polling Place Yes No Irving A Robbins 662 557 West Woods 224 185 Community Center 782 537 Farmington Library 620 404 Total* 2,288 1,683
*Numbers taken from the Head Moderator's Report. All numbers include absentee and property owner votes.