New Milford rejects school budget by 18 votes
NEW MILFORD — Voters supported Mayor David Gronbach’s austere first municipal budget on Tuesday, but rejected a proposed school budget by 18 votes, sending both back for another townwide vote within the next three weeks.
Only 9.16 percent of registered voters in New Milford turned out to defeat the school budget, 734 to 716, and approve its municipal counterpart, 841 to 608.
New Milford’s Town Charter requires both the municipal and school budgets go face another townwide vote if either is rejected.
“The Republican Town Committee campaigned against the BOE budget and their attacks clearly bore fruit,” Gronbach said Tuesday night.
He plans to schedule a Town Council meeting to consider a revised budget to send back to voters.
Of the $100.3 million proposed budget, $62.2 million would have covered the Board of Education — an increase of about $1 million over current spending — with $36.6 million for the municipal budget and $1.6 million for capital projects.
The property tax rate would have been $26.77 for every $1,000 of assessed value.
The budget included $448,000 the Board of Finance added last month. Gronbach had proposed a zero combined increase for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
While the Board of Finance doesn’t have line-item control, it can allocate money for five areas: personnel services, contractual services, materials and supplies, fixed charges and capital overlay.
The mayor ultimately decides where the money goes, according to the town’s regulations.
Gronbach has said he would recommend the $448,000 be set aside, especially because of state funding cuts. New Milford is receiving about $500,000 less from the state than originally expected.
The Town Council hasn’t discussed how to spend the additional money since the Finance Board added it, but that issue could be moot, depending on the Town Council’s revised budget proposal it sends to voters.
Some Finance Board members said they would like to see $413,000 of the increase cover materials and supplies, with $35,000 used for personnel.
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