SHERMAN – Not only did less than 300 of the city’s nearly 2,500 eligible voters turn out for Saturday’s budget referendum, the result prompted a recount of one of the budgets on the ballot.
“Due to the tight results there will be a recount,” first Selectman Don Lowe announced on Saturday night. “If the equality holds or if it goes further against the school budget, there will be another referendum.”
While rare, Lowe said, having more than one budget referendum wouldn’t be a first.
“It has happened from time to time in the past – but to my memory not in the last 10 or 12 years,” he said.
The low turnout in budget referendums is not new to Sherman either.
“I think many cities have experienced a low turnout over the past few years. I don’t know why (but) in our case the last four budgets haven’t been very controversial and three of them have been tax cuts, ”Lowe said.
The combined city and school budgets for 2021-2022 would reflect an overall spending increase of 1.13%.
Lowe said the result of the school’s budget vote “likely reflects voters’ concern over the way the proposed maintenance and repair work for the Sherman School has been handled.”
“I know people weren’t happy when money directly from the school budget was allocated for a capital issue,” Lowe said, noting that these expenses are normally allocated to city meetings.
“I think this break in precedent got enough people to vote against the school budget, which was, by the way, a flat budget,” he said.
Reflecting a year-over-year decrease of $ 425, the proposed school budget of $ 9.38 million allocates about 60% of expenses to salaries and about 19% to high school tuition.
The city budget passed on Saturday could reflect a 3% spending increase, but Lowe said that won’t translate into a tax increase.
Thanks to a $ 4 million surplus in the city’s general fund, he said, there would actually be a decrease for a third year in a row that would cause the city’s thousandth rate to drop from 19.11. at 18.73.
Lowe suspects that the lack of participation in the referendum is linked to assumptions that the budgets will be passed.
“I think people tend to relax and rest, thinking that ‘of course it’s going to be okay,’ he said. “Therefore, they don’t make the effort to vote.”
Monday morning, the date of the referendum recount on Sherman’s budget had not yet been determined.
“There will be a recount, but at this time the details of this recount situation are unknown,” Lowe said.