redding Voters approve budget on 3rd try
REDDING — Voters approved the budget on the third try, this time by a comfortable margin.
The $49.2 million budget passed 1,308 to 968, far more than the three-vote margin that defeated the budget during the second attempt, prompting a recount.
“I’m just glad that we’re at this point,” said Selectman Peg O’Donnell.
The approved budget includes nearly $14.7 million for the town and $21.1 million for the Redding Board of Education, which covers the town’s elementary and middle schools.
These two items translate to an 0.9 percent increase over the current year’s spending.
This budget also included Redding’s $13.4 million share of the Region 9 budget. Residents didn’t have to vote on the overall $24.2 million Region 9 budget this time because it passed in both Easton and Redding earlier this month.
“I’m very happy that the town is able to move forward,” Selectman Michael Thompson said. “I’m very optimistic that Redding and its schools will continure to thrive.”
Both the town and schools cut their budgets after the overall amount failed at referendum twice. The last budget failed by three votes with an overall voter turnout of about 35 percent. The past two proposals were $49.3 million on June 5 and $49.9 million on May 8.
This time, the selectmen reduced their budget by another $40,000 from the second attempt, which translates to an overall decrease of about 0.37 percent from the current year. This will largely be covered by consolidating the zoning enforcement officer and the land-use coordinator after the latter retired. A portion of the coordinator’s salary line will go toward consultants to cover some of the planning or engineering responsibilities and a part-time zoning enforcement officer.
The school district cut its budget about $102,000 from the last attempt. Of that, $70,000 will come from the $2.3 million contribution to the health reserve. The school budget is $430,000 less than the initial proposal, but $377,000, or 1.82 percent, more than the current year.
School officials said reducing the contribution to the health reserve was “risky” but “the least awful” option because they had already cut programs and they expected fewer claims this year due to the new, higher deductible.