Mayor Patricia Murphy grasped the hand of New Milford finance director Ray Jankowski and smiled.

It appeared a 2011-12 town and school budget victory was imminent and there was cause for relief and satisfaction.

Superintendent of Schools JeanAnn Paddyfote typed furiously into her Blackberry, "It passed; it passed; it passed.''

In decisive votes at all seven town polling places, the town's taxpayers Tuesday voted almost two-to-one --4,256 in favor and 2,103 against-- for a $91.63 million town and schools budget.

That figure represents a 1.6 percent increase in spending over the current year.

The referendum drew just more than 15 percent of 17,721 registered voters.

"I'm happy,'' said Board of Education member Lynette Celli Rigdon, who was one of the first to arrive to await the final vote tally.

Dr. Paddyfote was equally pleased.

"I'm thrilled,'' she said as she typed the news to her school colleagues that the district's proposed, $57.2 million budget had passed taxpayer muster. "This is great news, great news.''

In a written note, Board of Education member David Lawson said the next year's budget would enable the district to "advance our mission.''

"This allows our schools to continue cost avoidance projects, maintain the strategic plan, and to pursue bold initiatives, such as all-day kindergarten to comply, and perhaps exceed, the standards mandated by the federal and state governments," he said.

The town portion of the budget was $34.5 million.

The budget will increase the town mill rate -- $1 for every $1,000 of taxable assessed property -- by 9.1 percent.

Due to property revaluation, however, tax increases will be minimal and owners of many single-family homes will pay lower taxes due to decreased home values.

A home valued at $215,000 will have a tax bill of $5,321, about $19 more than this year.

Mayor Murphy said she is pleased the voters gave their collective thumbs up to the hard work of school and town leaders who attempted to keep spending low while still providing the services residents want.

She said she is sending out a "big, fat thank you'' to all those who supported this budget effort.