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Update: Seymour 2017 Budget Referendum Results

by Ethan Fry | May 11, 2017 9:30 pm

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Posted to: Seymour, Seymour Budget

ethan fry photoSeymour voters overwhelmingly approved town and school budgets for next year at a referendum Thursday — but officials said they won’t rest assured until Hartford lawmakers finalize a statewide spending plan.

The $23.2 million town budget passed 626 to 290.

The $32.9 million school budget passed 561 to 354.

The combined budget does not raise taxes, assuming aid from the state budget isn’t gutted.

With the state’s tax revenue estimates trending downward consistently, First Selectman Kurt Miller said the town can dip into a roughly $800,000 “mill rate stabilization fund” if there’s a shortfall in state aid to the town.

Any more than that, Miller said, and Seymour may have to make some tough decisions.

“If the cuts are worse than that, at that point we’re going to have to sit down and re-evaluate what we would do, whether it would be trimming expenses, going into fund balance, (or) sending out supplemental tax bills,” Miller said in the Community Center after the referendum results were announced.

Officials used the $800,000 target because Gov. Dannel Malloy’s initial budget proposal would have delivered about $700,000 less in state money to Seymour next year.

“We wanted to make sure we at least covered that,” Miller said.

He said the town set aside $300,000 in this year’s budget and $400,000 in next year’s, and will probably have a surplus around $100,000 when the fiscal year ends this summer.

If the state budget delivers as much state money as Seymour received last year, Miller said the money could be used for infrastructure.

“We have a need for things like fire trucks and some other big ticket items,” Miller said.

Reaction

Thursday’s referendum marked the second straight year voters endorsed both budgets on the first attempt, a reversal of a trend which saw both budgets need multiple votes to get passed as recently as 2014.

Turnout was poor, at roughly 8.4 percent of the town’s 10,778 registered voters.

ethan fry photo

After presiding over a meeting in the community center gym immediately after the results were announced to set the budget and mill for next year, Board of Finance Chairman William Sawicki was happy those who did show up voted yes.

“We’re disappointed in the turnout but the fact that it did pass speaks to the voters that voted recognizing the work we’ve put in, and the tax rate stays stable,” he said. “We did the best job we could and we’re thankful for their support.”

Sawicki said that while town is in better shape than many others with respect to uncertainty over the state budget, but that “you’re always worried until the final decisions are made.”

“I think the residents have very much gotten behind the plan we’ve put in place five years ago,” Miller said. “I think this just shows how pleased the residents of Seymour are with the direction we’re heading.”

The first selectman said he plans for next year’s budget to be “flat or even a small reduction in taxes.”

Yashu Putorti, the chairman of the Board of Education, e-mailed the Valley Indy Thursday night saying he was ecstatic that the school budget was approved by voters on the first try for the second year running.

“This is a testament to our superintendent presenting a very reasonable budget with a low increase,” Putorti said. “She has worked very hard to present to the Board of Education a budget that will continue to provide outstanding service to our students while keeping the the increase to a reasonable number. For two years in a row, the people of Seymour have said the Board of Education budget was acceptable.”

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