Town Votes Yes, Yes, and ?

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Two of three proposed budgets were approved by voters in the May 4 Budget Referendum. The other ended in a draw.

The budget for Town operations passed, after being reduced by just over $300,000 at the Annual Town Budget Meeting. The $59 million Board of Education operating budget, untouched at the ATBM, also passed.

The $2.8 million ATBM-reduced capital budget remains undecided, ending in a 716–716 tie.

If that tally holds up when the Registrars hand count ballots next week to verify the machine tabulation, the capital budget would go back to the Board of Finance for another try and another referendum.

In the meantime, the Board of Finance cannot set the mill rate as scheduled on Monday.

As budget referenda historically go, voter turnout was unusually high.

Budget Yes Pct. Yes No Pct. No
Town Operating 725 50.66% 706 49.34%
Board of Ed. Operating 1,282 89.40% 152 10.60%
Capital 716 50.00% 716 50.00%

What happens next

If the capital budget vote is indeed deadlocked, by the terms of the Town Charter the Board of Finance must offer a new capital proposal to another referendum, which must be held within 10 to 21 days. Public notice must be given five days before it takes place.

And if that proposal doesn’t pass, the board has to keep trying until one does.

The Annual Town Budget — comprising all budgets, including the debt service allocation, which is already set — must be fully approved by July 1. Otherwise, existing budget amounts stay in place month-to-month until everything is done and dusted.

During that time, the Town could meet its obligations by taking on short-term debt (known as tax anticipation notes) or drawing from reserves. The Charter also empowers the Selectmen to set an interim mill rate. Some combination of all three options is also possible.

Related Stories:

April 26, 2024:  ATBM Resumes, Votes More Cuts

April 25, 2024:  Budgets Reduced, ATBM to Continue

April 12, 2024:  Budgets Set, Big Mill Rate Drop Projected

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