Second referendum on tap

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NAUGATUCK — The borough’s proposed municipal and education budgets are heading to the polls for a second time.

A referendum on the budgets is Sept. 22 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voting will take place at the former train station, 195 Water St.

The proposed budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which started July 1, is $115.26 million. The spending plan is an increase of $2.3 million, or 2 percent, over the 2014-15 budget.

The proposed Board of Education budget is $61.68 million, an increase of $770,651, or about 1.24 percent, from 2014-15. The proposed municipal budget is $53.6 million, an increase of about $1.5 million, or 2.9 percent.

The proposed budget increases the mill rate from 44.27 mills to 45.57 mills, a 2.93 percent increase. The mill rate is the amount of taxes payable on the assessed value of a property.

The municipal and school budgets will be voted on separately. Residents will be asked to vote yes; no, too high; or no, too low on both budgets. At least 15 percent of registered voters need to vote in the referendum for the results to count.

The first budget proposal, a $115.8 million spending plan, was soundly rejected at a referendum in July. Borough officials reduced spending by nearly $525,000 following the first vote.

Controller Bob Butler previously said the town has a policy of allocating for no discretionary expenses until the budget is finally adopted. He said capital items have been put off as well. For example, no new police cruisers have been purchased yet.

The ongoing referendum process is also having an impact on the schools.

Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said the Board of Education has only released 50 percent of the supply funds to the schools in anticipation of the upcoming referendum.

Locke said the impact is currently minimal since the school year recently began, but it could become a larger problem if the budget fails at the referendum next week and is reduced further.

“Hopefully, when the budget gets passed, we will be able to release the rest,” Locke said.

If the budget fails at next week’s referendum the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses would present a third budget on Sept. 24. That budget would go to a public hearing on Sept. 28 and be adopted on Oct. 1.

The budgets can be forced to a third referendum through petitions. However, if they fail for a third time, the Charter states, any budget approved by officials after the vote becomes final.