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New London — In a sparsely attended referendum Tuesday, voters decisively rejected the $82 million 2013-14 budget approved by the City Council in May.
With a turnout of about 10 percent of registered voters, all three questions on the ballot were defeated by margins of at least 250 votes. The first, on the city government portion, failed 849 to 589; the second, on the education portion, failed 843 to 593. The last question, on the tax rate of 27.50 mills — a proposed 3.8 percent, 0.9-mill increase — was rejected 859 to 572.
Eric Parnes, one of the leaders of the group that successfully petitioned for the referendum, said his group is seeking more accountability on city spending.
"We would accept a tax increase if we knew where the money was going," said Parnes, co-chairman of Lower Our Taxes. "We hope that money gets taken out where it's not needed. Taxpayers in this town can't afford to pay any more money, especially the elderly. LOT hopes the budget will be cut responsibly."
Voters in all three districts defeated all three questions by comfortable margins. Absentee ballot voters also rejected the measures.
Zak Leavy, spokesman for Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, said in a statement that the results were "to be expected" but that they should not be interpreted as a mandate because of the low turnout, and that significant cuts would harm the city.
"I will work closely with the City Council to craft a new budget," Finizio said in the statement provided by Leavy. "I hold forth firmly to my view that further reductions in the budget are not possible."