Second referendum set

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NAUGATUCK — A second referendum on the borough’s proposed school and municipal budgets is set for Sept. 22.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses set the referendum at a special meeting last week. Voting will take place at the former train station, 195 Water St., from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The referendum was forced through a petition effort.

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 school 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 said the town has a policy of allocating for no discretionary expenses until the budget is finally adopted.

“We’re also doing things like rather than committing to vendors and paying in advance for a year contract, we do it on a quarterly basis, like with our service contracts,” he said.
He said capital items have been put off as well. For example, no new police cruisers have been purchased yet.

Still, bills for operating expenses at both the town and school system are being paid.

“My understanding, according to the town attorney, is that once the budget is adopted, there is a budget in place,” he said.

If the budget is defeated at referendum, there is no budget in place for the next five to seven days until officials set a new number.

If the budget is defeated on Sept. 22, officials will meet within a week to begin trimming the proposal. It can only go to referendum once more, per borough charter. After a third referendum, the charter states, any budget approved by officials becomes final.

A budget has never gone to referendum three times in a year in Naugatuck.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.