Oxford voters pass budget by 33 votes
OXFORD-Voters narrowly approved the town’s municipal budget by 33 votes Thursday but gave larger majorities in passing both the Board of Education budget and the $750,000 road project budget.
Only 1,193 of the town’s roughly 9,000 registered voters appeared at Quaker Farms School to cast a ballot.
The final count read by the moderator was 614 yes to 581 no votes for the municipal budget; 672 yes to 528 no votes for the school board budget and 845 yes to 347 no votes for the road project budget.
Immediately after the the vote was read Jack Kiley, chairman of the town’s Finance Board called a meeting of his members who set the mill rate at 23.84. That’s .79 mills higher than last year.
Almost half a mill (.49) of the current increase will pay for $750,000 in road projects
A mill represents $1 on each $1,000 of taxable property. To calculate the change in owed tax multiply the assessed property value by the mill rate.
So a home assessed at $200,000 multiplied by the proposed 23.84 mill rate would generate $4,768 in taxes which is $158 more than the current fiscal year.
The rate will pay for the combined $48,951,613 budgets of which $30,929,048 goes to the school board.
A steady stream of voters appeared at the school during the last hour.
Matt Orienter was among them.
“I never think town’s budget enough money,” he said. “There’s always something more they can do.”
He suggested a higher mill rate could have paid for more road work, more teacher’s aides and paraprofessionals and removal of the remaining trees that last year’s tornadoes took down.
“There are trees still all over the place,” he said.
So Orienter wouldn’t be opposed to increasing the mill rate higher as long as it is used for the town’s betterment.
“That would attract more people,” he said.
James Hilva, the town’s finance director had no explanation as to why the vote was so close this year—even more so than last year.
“The great thing about this whole process is everyone can speak their opinion secretly on paper,” he said.
Last year some residents campaigned against the $174,000 increase in wages for the first selectman and 11 non-union town employees. That budget passed by 52 votes 596-544.
The proposed 2019-20 budget calls for an increase of about $649,563 in expenditures..
The biggest increase is in the cost of running the town government which is budgeted for $17,272,565 up from $16,251,775.
The Board of Education will get a $900,000 increase putting its budget at $30,929,048. That’s substantially less than the $32,281,227 the school board requested.
Much of this will be paid for by an increasing Grand List. It is $1,542,367,730 up from last fiscal year’s $1,498,530,59.
This should generate nearly $2 million more in taxes. It puts billed taxes at $35,473,367.