Referendum Vote Does Not Pass

Back to the polls in three more weeks


Friendly smiles and chatting turned to shock and dismay as once again, the budget did not make it past the voters.  

As the numbers were read, some wondered if it was the rain or a possible accident on I84 that had kept voters away.

First Selectman Patricia Llodra said yesterday that this was the first time that the Board of Selectmen, the Legislative Council and the Board of Finance all agreed that the budget was fair.  In an interview on Monday, Llodra said, "I believe the town of Newtown has a very strong commitment to education. We are a sophisticated and smart population, but with this budget season I developed some worries.  We need to work together to get through this tough malaise."

As the count was read, faces fell when it was clear that the nayes had it, with the total counts:

Yes: 1,946

No: 2,023

Total votes, including absentee:  3,970

Llodra said that a Town Meeting would be bypassed and another referendum would be held in three weeks. She said, "The voters have spoken, there is more to be done.  Back to council."



Desiree Galassi May 17, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Actually I have to disagree. Part of the whole wellbeing of a person also includes opportunities for active and passive recreation otherwise we become a sedentary and isolated population increasing medical costs. I believe in that these offerings should be affordable to all people. Monroe residents pay $180 for their lake and pool. And for $135 Newtown residents can get a beach sticker to Pennfield and Jennings Beaches in Fairfield. Newtown really could use another swimming pool on the south side of town. Former "pool" at Dickinson Park provided easy access for seniors and toddlers (though it was actually kind of gross by mid season and reason for which it was shut down). The idea of another zero entry is one we should explore. When we lived in the Netherlands we used the community pools ( all housed in the same facility) They included one outdoor pool, one olympic lap pool and a zero entry with handicap ramp on one side, a kid slid on the other and a hydromassage area for rehabilitation on the third side.
william armstrong May 17, 2012 at 02:29 AM
The LC cut $200,000 from the rainy day fund and left everything else the same. Still going to vote no again.
Dee Dee May 17, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Are you kidding me? These people just don't get it!!!!!!!!!! NO means NO.
Wayne Addessi May 17, 2012 at 02:48 AM
I agree Dee Dee. Also as a parent we get emails about the same topic.Go out and vote. I understand what they're doing but it is troublesome. I too feel it should stop. This came in an email but not signed off on. Read towards the bottom.The email clearly is asking for a yes vote. Dear Middle School Families, The municipal and education budget referendum failed, 2,560 no votes to 1,962 yes votes. The Legislative Council meets tonight, Wednesday, April 25th at 7:30 p.m., at The Municipal Center, Primrose Street, to set a new budget number. There will be an opportunity for public participation at the start of this meeting. As we move forward, we ask for your continued support in behalf of our students.
John May 17, 2012 at 03:08 AM
That "phenomenal" education your children receive will go away if the education budget gets slashed any more. If you would like too keep the quality of education at a superior level in the town, one should be able to realize that there needs to be nominal increases in the budget every year too keep up with costs (heat, electricity, and what have you) not to mention inflation...any more cuts would mean teachers losing there jobs, essential programs being cut, we have already gotten rid of the wants next we get rid of the needs. best investment any society can make is an investment in human capital.
Hoopster May 17, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Eagle101, and the second question is “what are the taxes?” If you want to see high property values, show the prospective buyers a very good efficient school system AND low property taxes.
Dee Dee May 17, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Dear Wade, According to my hubby - lawyer - that email clearly crossed the line - not legal!
John F Seman III May 17, 2012 at 03:35 AM
I didn't move to Newtown because of a better school system, I didn't move to Newtown for better property values. I've lived in Newtown my entire 46 years, My daughter celebrated her 9th Birthday today(my son is 15). My Father lived his 59 years as a Resident of Newtown. My Grandparents lived in Town all of thier lives until retiring to Fla in thier 70's. My Great Grandparents were Business owners and residents of Newtown. We have collectively paid more than our fair share of taxes to the Town for the services rendered over more than the past century. The Local,State and National economy has ebbed and flowed and over this peroid, so have the tax rates. Currently the Economy is at a low and the Local tax should reflect that. I advocate a Zero tax increase. The past 2 referendums have reflected that by Voting NO.
Hoopster May 17, 2012 at 03:41 AM
So clearly there is no reason to spend more. With a little more effort, we could easily move up to 14 without spending an additional penny. It’s called improved productivity; we deal with it every day in the private sector. Dee Dee, how do we get access to the school’s automated system so we can send our message out to all the parents? This certainly seems like misuse of the system for personal gain. Was that one of the purposes they listed in the justification for the system? Maybe we can get the First Selectman’s emergency contact system to send out a message to every resident urging a NO vote.
Douglas Brennan May 17, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Eagle: Do you know that the first question many people ask is what am I getting for what I am paying? This is called what is my marginal benefit and what are my marginal costs. If I pay for services but don't get any then my marginal benefit is zero. NO utility. If the government in community A is run efficiently and it is not run efficiently in community B I will get more for my taxes in community B and therefore get a better value. So if we pay for people to add cost and not value then we will have a less attractive community. By way of example if we raise everyone's taxes by $100 we reduce the value of their property by about $2,000. So are we getting $2,000 of value from that $100 extra. If it was properly used and the taxpayers got some benefit OK. But in the case of Newtown's budget that is a big waste.
S.Q. May 17, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Absolutely right, Douglas. When my kids were in school I shelled out a BUNDLE for sports, choir trips to Europe, etc. etc. etc. etc. The other taxpayers did NOT pay for these things. Yet for some reason they suddenly want US to start paying these extras!
Wayne Addessi May 17, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Newtown Debt service budget item. 9,722.973.00 Brookfield Debt service $4,172.011 Ridgefield Debt Service $13,694.00 Southbury Debt service $1,400.000 (Hard to find)
B T May 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM
We are soooo behind the curve on the full day kindergarten issue - I was speaking with a family member recently who is a retired K teacher from MA (yes, let's move beyond the... "but Mass is a liberal socialist state" rhetoric). She was shocked at the fact we still don't have it, and I'm saddened that the kids are going to suffer going one more year without it. From someone who has worked her whole life in this field, she said it makes a world of difference developmentally, all the way down the road in life. These are our future Newtowners - business owners, artists, professionals. And you'd better believe a program like that is going to make a difference on property values and bringing young, productive families into town. The sad thing is that I DO believe there's an incredible amount of waste in government - there always is. And there's always this tension between the older population who have already put their kids through school, and the younger group who is struggling to make ends meet and have their kids' college years on the horizon. Frankly, I'm shocked at what my family pays in property taxes each year, purely from the perspective of what we get in return for that money. I agree fundamentally with a 0 increase budget because bureaucracies are the most inefficient things in the world. BUT - making the kids suffer just to save us a hundred bucks a year in taxes? No, I'm not good with that - at all.
Dee Dee May 17, 2012 at 12:45 PM
B T While FDK would be nice, it is not something to just do without advance thought and planning (something that appears to be completely lacking in Newtown). For example, how does it affect busing? AND most importantly, with an age cutoff date of 5 on January 1, we are not set up to have FDK. This means 4 year olds are going to school for an entire day - they are way to young for this. States like MA who offer FDK have cutoff dates of August or September so the children are 5 before they start. Even St. Rose strongly discourages (or even turns away) children who have not yet turned 5 for their FDK program. This concept is not fully vetted in Newtown and to implement it now would be as silly as building Reed or the HS additions to meet a short term spike in enrollment - now there are discussions about moth balling a school. There is so much waste and many keep asking what do I get for my $8000? Thus I support no increase UNTIL the amount we currently pay can be justified and proper vetting has been done and a detailed implementation plan in place for any given project such as FDK.
Linda May 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I agree with you BT.
Linda May 17, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Douglas, I pay for my kids extras all the time. My kids are in High School now, I've been voting yes for YEARS on the budget because I've always wanted kids to have access to the best education. So when my kids were in kindergarten I was paying for the high school kids free extracurricular sports as well as the rising property taxes. I volunteered my time through the PTA on the board as well as in the classroom and on committees. Every year some major program is cut and not only do we have the insult of higher property taxes for less services, but now additional out-of pocket expenses for those things that were 'free' with a public school education. Yes. I pay and don't expect anyone to pay for me or my kids, but things are taken away every year that the parents of school age children have to foot the bill for because of the mismanagement and lack of forward planning of our town's elected and non-elected leaders.
Linda May 17, 2012 at 01:09 PM
SQ, pay to play was not in effect when your kids were in school, unless they just got out of school. I believe you are missing my point. The point is public school free education is not free anymore. Lower middle class families cannot afford the high property taxes along with the constant cutting of programs making families pay MORE for those things that should be accessible to ALL children, not just for those who can pay a BUNDLE for their kids.
Steve Kravec May 17, 2012 at 02:52 PM
We MUST get this budget under $100mm, or its will soon be $125mm. I know there are fixed costs but Newtwon has to look at everything. We as a country are in a very tough recession, everything should be on the table including town pensions. Also, every expense aka Trip to China should be scrutinized with one simple question: Is this trip/expense to the benefit of NewtownTaxpayer under the current economy. If it's a NOT and it's more of a Wish List item, then NO it should not be implemented. Folks, there are lots of nice things, we all wish we could have, own, consume, etc. but this town simply can't afford it.....
Big Family May 17, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I agree, it's not like we are asking for a tax cut (though that would be nice) we are just saying use the money in place now and if a legitimate issue comes up that requires more funds we"ll be there. Until then "no means no".
Steve Kravec May 17, 2012 at 03:06 PM
BTW, I don't like the author of the article insuating that the people who voted "NO" are the bad people that turned all the Bright, Smiling Faces into Wimpering, I need a Tissue, Frowns. In addition, the excuse that it must have been the rain or the accident is silly...How about the ANSWER was: NO!
Dee Dee May 17, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I SAY WE ALL VOTE NO. Po, and others lets work together! The town took $2 million in interest savings and kept it. Think if they had redirected this to the schools then the pro school vote could have FDK and teachers and maintained services WHILE the others in the NO increase category could have a 0% budget increase. I would totally vote YES for this! Clearly cutting $200,000 from the rainy day fund does nothing for either side. They are simply trying to divide and conquer us. If they had made the tough decisions on the town side we could all be happy. Think about it - a volunteer fire dept., we pay for pools and all, we pay to either go to the dump or for trash pickup (and they raised these rates).... the list goes on. I can live with a tax office open 4 days a week in exchange for money going towards the schools. Instead we have a gorgeous new town hall and no FDK. This is not want I think we all want. I think we all could team up and by VOTING NO demand that they reach a compromise for all of us instead of all of them. Lets unite - I will vote yes for restoring the school budget and cutting the town if it maintains a 0% increase - would you? Others? Comments? Have the next school robo call say vote no until they restore our budget and take it out of the town budget maintaining a 0% increase - then we are all happy (except perhaps those we elected to represent us might not be happy).
Dee Dee May 17, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Furthermore, if we let them play this game of dividing us and conquering then we are letting them increase the town side base. Thus, next year we start with the schools lower, the town higher and make it even more difficult to spend on our schools. This is the game they have been playing for years. Lets fight back!
Big Family May 17, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I would like to see the cuts come from the town side and I believe there are areas there to do it, dropping work days in most departments, remove any kind of overtime unless absolutely necessary and certainly wage freezes or layoffs. There is way tomuch fluff in this town and going forward we can not continue on this road, 0.0% increase or NO. P.S I also agree with Steve Kravec on how this article leans, very "journalistic".
J Edward May 17, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Bill Gates did not go to FDK. Nor Steve Jobs. Was their learning stunted by no FDK?
taxpayer May 17, 2012 at 10:11 PM
J Edward- not only did Gates and Jobs succeed without FDK, they dropped out of college so they could succeed! If a student wants to be successful, THEY need to put a little more into their education. We also need to support their creativity and desire to think outside the box. The structure of education these days does not support that and throwing more money into a broken system will not fix it either.
Hoopster May 18, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Here are some numbers to consider before you vote for the budget. I’ve arbitrarily chosen 2003 as a starting point only because I found those tax records. Since 2003, our property taxes have increased by 67%. (You can verify this easily by checking your own records). No doubt, your first reaction will be that this is due to inflation, and you would be about 33% right. Inflation between 2003 and 2011, based on the consumer price index, was roughly 23%. So where did the other 44% of property tax increase go? Maybe it’s time the town learned to live within its means rather than continue to pick our pockets.
Alex Tytler May 18, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Hoopster is 100% on the money. However being right has nothing to do with putting down a budget. We have been right all along, but we have failed to prevent these kind of crazy increases because the people benefitting from the spending are better organized and often illegally use our own money to lobby against our interests. We need to produce 2,500 no votes in the next referendum. If we can do that, we put this insult of a budget down for a third time, and convince the spenders that we are serious.
S.Q. May 29, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Regarding the budget: many people here and in the Bee argue that people move here "for the schools." I do not know about anyone else, but in my many decades in Newtown, I've met scores of families who moved here for the schools and then moved out as soon as the kids were through! What about the rest of us who actually LIVE here, not just bide our time? If you are sending your 2,3, 4 or more kids to school at (current rate) $12,000 a year, and did not live here BEFORE you had kids nor AFTER - just DURING their school years - then you made out like bandits! Sorry, I get really,really tired of the line, "I moved here for the schools...." as if that justifies everything. Some people do not look at Newtown as a pit stop on their kids' upward trajectory, NOR an investment, but HOME!
Paul Alexander May 29, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Paul Alexander May 29, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Alex. I am on your side. But "Good Enough" is better than "Perfect". There are too many hazards on the road to perfection. Should referendum #3 fail you DO NOT want the Selectman sending the next vote to a Town Meeting. ANYTHING can happen at a town meeting vote. The budget can be decided by a just a small group of vocal people. And if you poke the Selectmen in the eye enough with "No" then they will set the vote for a Town Meeting just to get it over with. They have a responsibility to get it done. First rule of warfare, don’t back you enemy into an indefensible position. They can get ruthless fighting back. VOTE YES IN REFERENDUM #3 AND THEN BRING THE SAME LEVEL OF OPPOSITION TO NEXT YEARS BUDGET CYCLE. Don’t try to "win" it all in one year. It will bite you in the a55.


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