NEWTOWN -- Newtown's Legislative Council voted 7-5 to pass along a $102.2 million total town budget for residents to vote on at the April 24 referendum.

"I think it (the budget) is OK," said 40-year-resident Ruth Newquist . A retired teacher, she understands why some on the council voted against the budget -- they wanted more money for education.

"We are low in the state" in how much we spend per pupil, she said, but a low budget is "good for the town, I think."

Newquist and about 30 others attended the council meeting.

The $102.2 million budget includes $64.2 million for the schools and $38 million for the town. It represents a 7.2 percent increase over the current $95.3 million total town budget.


If the budget passes, taxes will increase 5.9 percent.


During discussion, council member Joseph Borst , a Republican representing District I, brought up his concerns about $581,000 that was cut by the Board of Finance.

He asked the council to add $250,000 back to the education budget so the schools can meet more of their needs, including buying more buses.

When the high school is renovated, students will not be able to use its parking lot, so more of them may use buses. Subdivisions now being proposed could eventually added to the student population, he said.

"Of 160 districts, we are 136th in spending per pupil," said Legislative Council member Keith Jacobs , a Democrat representing District I, who supported Borst's motion to put $250,000 back into the education budget.

"Our town is very high in wealth. This is too wide of a gap for me," he said of Newtown being so far down the list of spending per pupil.


"It seemed excessive," council member Joseph Di Candido , a Republican representing District I, said of the amount of money the school system requested.

He doesn't see how the increase proposed by Superintendent Evan Pitkoff is justified because last year the student population increased less than expected.

In the end, a majority of the council voted against restoring the $250,000 and recommended the Board of Finance's $102.2 million total town budget.

"I am comfortable with where it was (minus the $250,000), so I voted to recommend the budget," said council member Michael Iassogna , a Republican representing District I. He thinks the school district will be able to make do.


"I feel comfortable and confident," said Legislative Council member Patricia Llodra , a Republican representing District II, of the budget she approved.

"The big-ticket items are justified. I feel the spending plan is in the best interest of the town and schools. I am a big advocate," she said.

With children age 8 and 11 in the school district, Mary Ann Jacob , president of Sandy Hook School 's PTO, said she understood wanting to put $250,000 back in the education budget, but "I don't think it would gain traction" in getting the budget passed at the referendum.

"I think both the education and town (officials) worked hard to try to be responsible this year," Jacob said. " I am glad they (the council) passed it. I would like to see more unified support in the vote."

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Residents can vote on the town budget at the referendum April 24 between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. at Newtown Middle School on Queen Street.



Contact Heather Barr

at hbarr@newstimes.com

or at (203) 731-3331.



The proposed budget

Newtown officials have proposed a $102.2 million budget for 2007-08. Here's how it breaks down:$64.2 million school budget $38 million town budget 7.2 percent increase in spending 5.9 percent increase in taxes