REGIONAL – Voters in three lower Connecticut River Valley towns, Westbrook, Deep River, and Chester approved their town’s spending plans.
Of the three, Westbrook is the one which one time won the distinction of being the last town in the state on January 19, 2006 to pass a budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year forcing the town to present five budget proposals to residents before a budget was finally approved.
However, the passage of the 2007-08 budget means the town is in its second year of winning voter approval without requiring additional referendums.
The Westbrook Town Clerk’s Office reported that 623 voters cast their ballots at the Mulvey Municipal Center during the June 5 referendum for the $22.16 million budget with 424 voters voting in favor of it and 199 voting against it.
The budget includes approximately $6.67 million for general government, $12.52 million for education, and $2.96 million for debt service.
In an effort to help residents, some of which who saw their property values increase as much as 70 percent in the last reevaluation, the Board of Finance voted immediately after the tally was given to lower the 22.22 mill rate by 7.42 mills to 14.80 mills.
This means that taxpayers will be assessed $14.80 for every $1,000 in assessed property.
Just to the north of Westbrook in Deep River, voters went to the polls at the Deep River Public Library to show their support for a $13.64 million budget.
Deep River Town Clerk Jean Nickse said of the 231 voters who came to the polls, 144 voted in favor of the budget while 87 voted against it.
The total budget consists of $3.52 million for town government expenses, $4.48 million for the Deep River Elementary School, and $100,000 for the capital expenditure plan.
The passage of the Region 4 referendum held on May 8 in the Towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex resulted in Deep River’s share of the Region 4 budget to decrease as a result of decreased student population.
899 voters in those towns showed their support for the regionalized school district at a referendum where 557 voted in favor of the district’s spending plan and 342 voting against it.
The Region 4 budget pays for expenses at the John Winthrop Middle School and the Valley Regional High School which serves students in the three towns.
Deep River’s share of the Region 4 budget this year is $4.61 million.
The passage of the budget is expected to increase the mill rate from 20.75 mills to 21.25 mills.
The 0.50 mill increase will mean residents will be taxed $21.25 for every $1,000 of assessed property.
Just over the northern border in Deep River, Chester voters approved their budget at a traditional New England town meeting held in the Chester Meeting House on Tuesday, May 29.
Chester Town Clerk Debra Calamari said about fifty residents attended the meeting and unanimously approved the $3.61 million town government budget and the $3.91 million education budget for the Chester Elementary School.
The spending package includes an allocation of $118,500 for the town’s capital projects budget.
The Region 4 referendum resulted in Chester’s share of the Region 4 budget to increase as a result of increased student population.
Chester’s share of the Region 4 budget this year is $3.86 million.
The total $11.5 million budget is expected to increase the mill rate from 22.37 mills to 23.12 mills.
The 0.75 mill increase means residents will be taxed $23.12 for every $1,000 of assessed property.
The other towns in the lower Connecticut River Valley which include Lyme, Old Lyme, Essex, and Old Saybrook have already passed their municipal and education budgets for the 2007-08 fiscal year.