After four failed attempts, Newtown's 2012-13 budget has finally passed. Thirty-one percent of the town's 16,000 voters turned out today to cast their ballot and, in the end, there were 156 more yes votes -- 2,568 to 2,412.
There were tears in the eyes of Debbie Leidlein, chairman of the Board of Education, as members of the Legislative Council and Board of Finance laughed and hugged when the results came in, announcing they were grateful they will not be coming back in three weeks.
This was the fifth referendum, and one jubilant voter, Ali Legros, said she voted yes, “Because it was time to get these shenanigans over with.”
Now that the vote has passed, it is expected there will be an announcement by the Board of Education about whether full day kindergarten will be available this fall.
The $106,146,838 budget that passed includes the $68,355,794 education budget and represents a .69 percent tax increase.
A happy but tired First Selectman Patricia Llodra said in a telephone interview, “I am very pleased we are through this challenge and we are looking forward to a change in the process next year. Last night, the Legislative Council charged nine people with finding a strategy which could include a bifurcated budget or questions. Clearly this process has taught us that we don’t have the kind of precision our voters need.”
“I am relieved we are through the challenge," she added, "but there are a lot of challenges ahead.”