After a rainy Tuesday, a new Monroe town budget rises

MONROE, CT — Voter turnout was light amid a cool day with rain showers, but the accumulation of “yes” votes was enough to pass a new $99.7 million town budget for fiscal year 2023-24.

The budget, which includes $67,683,424 for education, $31,249,688 for municipal expenditures, and $813,868 in contingency and other appropriations, carries a projected tax increase of 1.87 percent.

Townspeople approved it at referendum by a vote of 923 to 728, according to the Registrars of Voters Office.

“My thanks to the Monroe voters and for the hard work and continued collaboration of our department heads and our elected officials on the Board of Education, Town Council and Board of Finance,” First Selectman Ken Kellogg said after the votes were counted.

“I’m just really happy that it was supported by the voters,” Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza said. “This is a few years in a row now, and I think it shows the great working relationship between the Board of Education and the town. This budget will go a long way in helping us address the needs of our students.”

“I’m relieved,” Board of Education Chairman David Ferris said upon hearing the news Tuesday night. “I am very, very happy. Thank you to everybody that came out and participated. I’m very happy that we got this passed on the first referendum, so the BOE and the town can move forward. A lot of people put significant time and effort into this budget with the best interests of the town and BOE in mind.”

Poll workers check names and addresses of voters at District 4 at Masuk High School Tuesday afternoon.

During its deliberations on the budget, the Board of Finance decided to use $3 million from the undesignated fund balance to offset the projected increase in property taxes.

The Board of Finance will convene and is expected to adopt a new mill rate of 37.55 mills, an increase from the current 36.86 tax rate. Individual tax bills can be calculated by multiplying one’s assessed property value by the mill rate and then dividing by 1,000.

Motor vehicle values are not included in the mill rate, since the state of Connecticut made it count separately and capped it at 32.46 mills for this year and next.

Total spending in the new budget will increase by $3,023,833 or 3.13 percent.

Overall, municipal spending will increase from $30,798,410 to $31,249,688 and education spending will rise by 4.8 percent, from $64,582,666 to $67,683,424. The fiscal plan includes $5,704,066 in debt service and a $7,342,627 capital budget.

Voter turnout

A handful of voters trickled into District 4 at Masuk High School late Tuesday afternoon. Frank Dutches, the moderator, said there was a lot of downtime during the day with occasional surges in turnout.

“It’s a relatively light turnout,” he said, while seated at one table. “The rain certainly had an impact. We’re probably on pace with recent referendums.”

Though light, voter turnout actually increased from last year, rising from 12.63 to 12.88 percent, according to the Registrars of Voters.

Of 12,825 registered voters, 1,652 participated in Tuesday’s referendum. Of those, two people who own property in town voted off the grand list.

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