Budget passes on 2nd try


Recount needed to confirm results of vote

Beacon Falls moderator Mildred Kevit reads the results of a budget referendum on Tuesday at Laurel Ledge Elementary School. The budget passed 415 to 413, but will have to go through a recount. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — The town’s $6.75 million municipal budget for 2017-18 passed by a razor-thin margin at a referendum on Tuesday.

Voters approved the spending plan by a vote of 415 yes to 413 no.

The results will automatically go to a recount, since the vote was so close. First Selectman Christopher Bielik expected the recount to be done by the end of the week.

“I think having it so close shows how divided the information is and how divided the taxpayers are about the tax increases and the methodology of providing that service,” Board of Finance Chairman Joe Rodorigo said.

The budget increases town spending by $464,070, or 7.3 percent, over the current municipal budget. The town budget doesn’t include education spending for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. Region 16’s budget was approved in May.

The 2017-18 mill rate is estimated to increase 3 mills to 35.9 mills due to increases in spending and revenue losses. The mill rate is expected to be set following the recount, if the results hold true.

The majority of the increase in the mill rate comes from a loss of revenue due to a drop in the grand list from a recent revaluation of property. Due to the revaluation, the town’s 2016 net grand list decreased $25.1 million, or 5.12 percent, to $464.4 million. A mill rate increase of 1.9 mills is needed to balance out the loss of revenue in the grand list.

The budget approved Tuesday spends $73,756 less than the town’s first proposal, which was soundly rejected by voters at a town meeting on May 31.

Voters on Tuesday still had mixed feelings on the budget.

Resident Nob Phillips voted against the budget because he felt it is still too high

Resident Cheryl Allen, on the other hand, felt the budget is fair.

“I have three children. I want them to have all of the services that have always been in the town since I have moved here,” Allen said.

After the results were announced, officials were cautiously optimistic about the town moving forward with a budget.

“Assuming that the vote total holds up I am pleased with the ultimate result because we have a budget and we will be able to move forward and do the business of the town,” Bielik said Tuesday night. “Tax bills will be able to go out, and we will be able to operate as a functioning municipality.”

Rodorigo was happy the budget passed, but he warned the town is still waiting to see what will happen with the state budget.

“We still don’t have solid revenue numbers from the state of Connecticut. When those numbers come in, we will make adjustments accordingly,” Rodorigo said.