BERLIN - Residents go to the polls today for a second referendum on the 2018-19 general government and education budgets.
The proposed $44.4 million general government and $43.6 education budgets represent a 3 percent, or 0.95 mills, tax increase. On a house valued at $250,000, that’s a $166 increase in property taxes a year.
The general government budget is roughly $1.2 million and the education one is exactly $250,000 lower than what was sent to referendum on April 24.
Nearly 17 percent of voters cast ballots in that referendum and overwhelmingly rejected the budgets, which proposed a 5 percent tax increase. Board of Finance members called them catch up budgets by funding projects that were overlooked in years prior.
Voters said both budgets were too high in response to advisory questions.
After the referendum, the finance board cut $1 million from those catch-up projects, but nothing to the education side.
The finance board chairman said he thought the education budget’s 1.99 percent increase request, down from 4.3 percent, with teacher cuts and benefit and insurance savings already included was a responsible proposal.
The new proposed general government budget, which includes, debt, capital and transfers, is a 5 percent increase over current spending.
The Republican Town Council majority cut an additional $221,000 from the general government and $250,000 from the education side, saying voters needed to be listened to. Democratic councilors said both cuts were too much.
School board President Matt Tencza said that, if the education cut passes, programs would be impacted and sports and parking fees could be added.
The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at all regular locations.
For more information on the budgets, visit the Finance Department page of the town’s website, town.berlin.ct.us.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.