PLAINVILLE — Voters have approved a nearly $1 million spending increase for town government and the school system, though town officials believe they can stave off a tax hike by using reserve funds.
The $23.6 million municipal budget for the next fiscal year was approved Tuesday by 377 voters, with 90 ballots cast in opposition, while the $39.8 million Board of Education budget received 359 votes in favor and 106 votes against. According to the town clerk’s office, only 4 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, which is less than usual.
Town Council Chairperson Katherine Pugliese said she feels the results show that voters think the budget successfully balances maintaining services and keeping spending down.
“We are in great shape. Plainville is in a good spot in terms of what we can do next year and again we’re very, very cognizant of the pressure Plainville and other towns face,” she said.
Much of the $957,761 spending increase is offset by the use of the unassigned fund balance, effectively the town’s savings account.
Though spending will be increasing, Town Manager Robert Lee believes the town will avoid a mill rate increase and keep taxes flat for residents for a second consecutive year. Along with the use of the unassigned fund balance, he’s anticipating that the town’s allotment of state education grants could increase by $200,000.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say we’re probably going to get that additional $200,000,” Lee said.
If the additional funding money does come through, the mill rate would increase by 0.09 mills, in which case he believes the Town Council would move to use other revenue to shore up the difference and keep the rate at its current 34.62 mills.
Pugliese said the Town Council will likely vote to adopt a mill rate at its May 17 meeting.
After casting his ballot, Jason McCormack said he feels the budget is in line with increasing salaries and supporting the town’s schools.
“This town has a great school system and anything we can do to support education and the kids in town, I am for,” he said.
Though she feels the municipal side of the budget is fair, Chris Rich said she’s concerned that the education budget continues to rise every year.
“We always feel the education part is too high,” she said. “Every year it goes up, up, up.”