Time running out to force referendum

NAUGATUCK — It appears the proposed nearly $120.9 million 2016-17 budget will go into effect next week.

The proposal, which represents a $5.6 million, or 4.8 percent, spending increase will become official on Aug. 8, unless residents petition to send the budget proposal to a referendum. Residents must submit enough signatures from registered voters — about 1,350 — to force the referendum.

As of Monday no petitions had been taken out. Those who typically petition to send it to a referendum said they are not going to do so this time around, though they were not happy with the budget.

Resident Matt Katra, the Republican registrar of voters, has been the driving force behind most of the referendums over the past few years.

“Due to lack of time to coordinate and plan the effort, we are currently not planning on collecting signatures for a second referendum,” he said last week.

As it stands now, the proposal increases the mill rate 2.1 mills, or 4.6 percent, from 45.57 mills to 47.67 mills. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. So a homeowner with a house assessed at $150,000 will pay $7,150.50 in taxes, an increase of $315 over what that person paid last year.

The municipal budget is $59.2 million, which is an increase of $5.5 million, or 10.28 percent over the 2015-16 budget. The Board of Education budget is $61.6 million, which is flat compared to 2015-16 school spending.

In total, the nearly $120.9 million budget increases spending by $930,135, over the proposed $119.98 million budget that was rejected at a referendum in July. The budget also reduces the originally projected tax rate. The first proposal would have increased the mill rate 4.17 mills, or a little more than 9 percent.

The bulk of the spending increase and the reduction in the mill rate increase stem from a settlement with Veolia North America, the private company that runs the borough-owned wastewater treatment plant, which was reached after the first budget proposal was adopted. The settlement brought additional revenue for the budget and additional expenses to pay for mandated upgrades at the  plant.

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