No. Branford rejects budget in nonbinding referendum

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
May 14, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — Voters rejected the Town Council’s recommended 2008-09 budget at a referendum Tuesday, but turnout was not high enough to make the vote binding.

The vote was 287-90, or 76 percent to 24 percent.

The annual referendum is advisory in nature if voter turnout is less than 15 percent. Total turnout was 377 voters, or 4 percent of the roughly 8,500 registered voters.

Out of the total vote opposing the $44 million budget, 284 people said the budget is too high, while three voted that it is too low. Ninety votes were cast accepting the budget.

The council approved the budget to send it on to referendum last month, and Mayor Mike Doody said he does not think the council will revisit the subject.

“That’s my own opinion; I don’t think that I’ll be asking to look at it again because I don’t think there’s any more we could cut without hurting services,” Doody said.

The budget represents a 5.5 percent increase over fiscal 2007-08. It includes $11.8 million for town government and nearly $28.4 million for the Board of Education.

Doody said he thinks the council worked to recommend a budget with as few increases as possible.

“I think a lot of people are satisfied with the budget and that’s why a majority of people didn’t come out to vote,” he said. “I think the council worked well together to try to get the budget down as low as we could.”

The Board of Education is scheduled to discuss Thursday night where to find the $500,000 in cuts the Town Council included in the recommended budget. The school district requested a budget of $28.9 million, but the council approved $28.4 million.

Superintendent Robert Wolfe said the district will have to remove between five and eight positions in order to reduce its budget.

“There will definitely be a reduction of force,” Wolfe said.

But he added he understands the council’s decision and hopes there are no further reductions.

“These are difficult times,” he said. “While that ($500,000) was a large cut, we thought we could manage it — at least we thought we could maintain existing programs.”

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