PLAINVILLE — With the vote on the town’s budget approaching, town officials are pushing for a better turnout out than last year’s budget vote.
Fewer than 600 residents voted on the current budget, and officials are hoping more voters take the opportunity on April 30 to have a say on the $61.9 million proposal for next year.
“We certainly always would like to have a good turnout for people,” said Town Council Chairperson Katherine Pugliese.
The proposed budget would raise the mill rate by 0.88 mills to 34.72 mills, meaning a $121 tax increase for the average home assessment of $137,227. The council reduced the original requests from both Town Manager Robert Lee, by $136,000 to $23.6 million, and the Board of Education, by $221,000 to $38.3 million.
Polls will be open at the Plainville Fire Department headquarters at 77 W. Main St. from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. Voters will decide on each portion of the budget individually.
Pugliese said she believes a mill request of less than 1 mill is fair because the state’s fiscal means state aid to towns is likely to fall and municipalities face the possibility of having to contribute to the teachers’ pension system.
“These budgets are getting increasingly more complex and difficult to do and I think I'm laying the blame at the feet of the state,” she said.
Democratic Councilor Jesse Gnazzo said this year’s budget process turned out to be fairly amicable, despite councilors coming to the table with very different ideas of how they wanted the final product to look.
“I really was proud we worked together and came up with what I really believe is a responsible budget,” he said. “There were a couple things that were important to me and I reached across the aisle to find where we could meet.”
He was particularly glad to be able to work in the replacement of some fire department equipment and a dump truck for the public works department.
“You want, obviously, to maintain services. You don't want to lose what you already have,” he said. “The most important thing was to maintain services and staff levels where they were.”
Having spoken with residents, he feels voters are likely to approve the budgets on Tuesday and encouraged residents to go to the polls regardless of how they plan to vote.
“The feedback I'm getting from people out and about is people feel we did a good job with it,” he said. “I really do think it’s a responsible budget.”
Should either of the budgets be rejected, Gnazzo worries that education and programs would be back on the cutting block.
“I do have some concerns as far as some of the Board of Education costs,” he said. “If they’re reduced, what’s the impact to students? On the municipal side, he said town services like transportation for senior citizens could be threatened by future cuts.