Voters in Sherman on Saturday rejected a $4.45 million municipal spending plan for fiscal year 2012-13.

They did, however, approve an $8.5 million education budget by a count of 435-217.

"Clearly, the majority of voters want the Board of Selectmen to go back and sharpen our pencils," First Selectman Clay Cope said.

His comment came in response to a 364-280 vote against the municipal proposal.

Mr. Cope said he thought the budget was already lean heading into the referendum.

Yet voter sentiment indicated the spending plan would likely have to be trimmed more before coming to another vote on a date to be determined.

"The people of Sherman want to see a positive solution," Mr. Cope said, "And we will find it."

Until a municipal budget is passed, the town will be unable to set a mill rate for the coming year.

More than a fourth of the defeated municipal budget, or $1.2 million, had been related to debt-service payment.

With the town's emergency services facility coming due for operation, an anticipated increase in operating expenses of $40,000 was proposed.

The Senior Center budget was to increase by 16.1 percent, or $8,725, due to the addition of a new clerk position and an increase in transportation costs for the meals on wheels program.

The $8.48 million education budget represents a 2.78 percent, or $230,000, increase over the current fiscal year, due to an increase in Sherman eighth-grade students entering high school for the 2012-13 school year.

The Board of Selectmen was set to revisit its budget during a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, May 24.