What seemed like a done deal on May 12 is back before voters on Tuesday – and that is the 2009-2010 budget.
The $43,010,137 budget originally passed 463 to 89 at the Annual Town Meeting held at the Mansfield Middle School, at which the vote was taken via paper ballot. (See “Voters OK $43 million budget,“ in Mansfield Today.)
Preceding the vote, a motion was made by David Freudmann to eliminate funding in the budget for the Storrs Center project, and another was made by Ric Hossack to reduce the education budget by $150,000. Both failed.
Voters will have another chance to make their wishes known, at a referendum that has been called under a section of the Town Charter that allows voters to petition for a referendum after a Town Meeting vote.
More than 400 residents signed the petition – almost as many people as showed up at the Town Meeting – circulated by the same group that petitioned for a referendum last year, Save Mansfield CT [www.savemansfieldct.org] Only about 251 signatures were needed.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Audrey P. Beck Municipal Building (town hall), at the intersection of Routes 195 and 275 (South Eagleville Road).
This is the second year the budget has been sent to referendum via petition by Save Mansfield CT.
Last year, more than 2,000 voters turned out and it was a close vote.
The June 24, 2008 referendum passed a $43.7 million budget with a vote of 1169 to 1094.
If the budget is defeated this year, it will be sent back to the Town Council for changes.
Town operations versus education
The referendum will also include advisory questions that appear to reflect an ongoing schism between spending for town operations versus spending for running the town’s four schools (excluding the high school).
The questions ask voters whether they believe the town budget is too high (or too low), or if the education budget is too high (or too low) – when traditionally in most cities and towns in the state, the education portion of the budget is much higher than town operations.
In Mansfield’s case, the town operations part of the proposed budget is $12,489,750 (a decrease of 1.3 percent), and the K-8 education portion is $20,595,570 (a decrease of 1.6 percent).
Despite efforts to cut costs on the town side – including layoffs and hiring freezes and employee concessions – the tax rate would increase (less than one mill) because of the drop in state and federal revenues amounting to approximately $1.2 million.
The estimated tax increase would be 0.47 mills, from 25.24 to 25.71 mills – or the equivalent of about $94 in additional taxes for someone who owns a home assessed at $200,000.
Posted June 15, 2009
Also see related story, “Storrs Center defended as long-term solution to flagging funding,” published May 13, 2009.
An overview of the proposed budget – as approved at the May 12, 2009 Town Meeting – is available on the town Web site at http://www.mansfieldct.org/