Petitioners look to force budget vote

NAUGATUCK — A group of residents is working to force a referendum vote on Naugatuck’s 2014-15 budget.

Matthew Katra, a former member of the Board of Finance, said a group of concerned taxpayers began collecting signatures on Sunday to send the adopted 2014-15 budget to a referendum vote.

The group is collecting signatures for both the municipal and Board of Education budgets.

The Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses approved a $115.2 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year May 29. The budget represents an increase in spending of $4.33 million, or 3.91 percent, over the current budget.

The municipal budget is $53.9 million, an increase of $2.5 million or 4.87 percent. The school budget is $61.3 million, an increase of $1.8 million or 3.07 percent.

The budget will increase the mill rate 0.26 mills to 45.06 mills.

To force a vote, the group needs to collect signatures from at least 8 percent of the borough’s registered voters — about 1,345 — and submit the petitions to Town Hall by June 12.

In one day members of the group collected a few hundred signatures, Katra said.

Katra said the group is concerned for the economic future of the borough if the mill rate continues to rise.

“The budget is too high. The mill rate is too high. We need to lower it if we want to attract businesses,” Katra said. “We are the third highest mill rate in state. We are not going to attract businesses like that.”

Residents forced a referendum vote on the budget last year. Those who voted last year rejected the budget. However, the turnout did not meet the required 15 percent of voters to validate the referendum.

Katra said the group will be outside Stop and Shop on Rubber Avenue collecting signatures as well as going door to door throughout the borough.

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