NAUGATUCK — Volunteers with the group behind forcing a budget referendum are handing out absentee ballot applications this weekend.
Volunteers will be at Stop & Shop in the Mountview Plaza on Rubber Avenue Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Absentee ballot applications will be handed out during these times to any Naugatuck resident who will not be present to vote on the day of the referendum, according to a press release issued by former Board of Finance member and an organizer of the petition effort to force the referendum Matthew Katra.
The Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses approved a $115.2 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year on May 29. The budget represents an increase in spending of $4.33 million, or 3.91 percent, over the 2013-14 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.
The municipal and school budgets were forced to a referendum through a petition effort. The referendum will be held Tuesday, July 29. Voting will take place from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Naugatuck train station, 195 Water St.
The train station is the only polling place open for the referendum. The consensus among the borough board was the cost of opening more voting locations would be an unnecessary expense. It costs $4,800 to open the train station as a voting location and $15,000 to open all locations, according to officials.
“The difficulty or inability for many voters to make it to the polling location is understandable,” Katra stated in the release. “Unlike all other elections, the Mayor and Board of Burgesses has limited the voting locations to one — the Naugatuck train station. By holding an absentee ballot application drive this weekend, the hope is that more voters will be able to participate in their right to vote in this referendum. All voters in Naugatuck are encouraged to vote.”
The referendum offers three ways to vote on the municipal and Board of Education budgets: Yes, No: too high, or No: too low. The turnout must be at least 15 percent of registered voters in order for the results to count.
According to the press release, volunteers have also established a budget referendum hotline for anyone who wants to help “in getting out the vote.” The hotline is not associated with the borough. Voters can call (203) 806-0588 for yard signs, more information on absentee ballots or to request a ride to vote during the referendum, the release stated.