Colchester voters reject the city’s $ 15.8 million budget

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COLCHESTER – Residents Tuesday turned down a city budget of $ 15.8 million and a likely tax hike while narrowly approving a separate spending plan for Colchester public schools.

The referendum failed by 1,022 to 845, according to First Selectwoman Mary Bylone. The education budget was passed by 935 to 932 votes, although she said the margin would trigger an automatic recount.

Colchester is the second city in the lower Connecticut River Valley to fail a budget referendum last week. East Haddam voters overwhelmingly opposed a budget that included spending and tax increases last Tuesday.

The spending plan presented by Colchester’s CFO provided a 4.7 percent increase over current spending levels. To cover these costs, the board recommended increasing the mill rate from 32.84 to 33.55.

Bylone, a Democrat, said she held open office hours Wednesday morning to get feedback from residents who voted against the spending plan.

When asked why the budget failed, Bylone said some popular spending items – like renovating a basketball court and insulating playground equipment – were removed from the final budget in hopes of funding those items with funds to restore coronavirus from the To pay federal government.

“Things that might have pushed people out of voting … those things have been removed,” said Bylone.

Still, said the first picker, much of the early feedback she received pointed to taxes. “Some people told me today that it was one thing – they really didn’t want to pay a tax hike,” Bylone said.

Under the proposed mill rate increase, a homeowner with assets of $ 500,000 for the fiscal year ending July 1 would owe $ 16,775 in property taxes, an increase of $ 355 from their current tax bill.

Bylone said residents will be billed below the current mill tariff at the beginning of the next fiscal year, and the city will continue to operate at the current spending level until a new one is approved. If a budget is later approved and the Finance Council decides to increase taxes, a subsequent invoice will be sent to the residents.

The proposed budget did not provide for an increase in the number of urban workers.

Most of the spending plan presented to the Colchester voters was the proposed $ 48.1 million education budget, which was narrowly approved pending a recount. This budget included a 1 percent increase over current spending.

Spending increases included in the city’s budget included more than $ 200,000 on public works and a 2.25 percent pay increase for police and library staff.

“I came up with a budget that had no needs, it had needs,” said Bylone, “needs that have not been addressed in years.”

Bylone said that after hearing residents, city officials and the finance committee will recombine to work on a second budget. A referendum could take place as early as July, she said.

Hearst Media Connecticut recently released a payroll for school principals across the state. It can be viewed at

nhregister.com

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