New London taxpayer group LOT seeks budget referendum

New London - Members of Looking Out for Taxpayers are circulating petitions to force a referendum on the $82 million budget that was approved last month by the City Council and signed by the mayor.

LOT, which has about 25 members, needs 482 signatures for the city to hold a vote on the 2013-14 budget. The $82 million budget represents $41.6 million for general government and $40.4 million for education.

The required number of signatures is 10 percent of those who voted in last November's election.

LOT also is seeking to overturn a vote by the City Council, which set the tax rate at 27.5 mills, a 3.38 percent increase.

"People can't take it anymore,'' said Katelyn Teel, secretary for LOT. "Either they can't afford the taxes, they're tired of politics or the lack of transparency."

Members are not happy with the more than 3 percent tax increase for 2013-14, she said.

"The point is, before you come to us for more money, you need to provide us with a comprehensive and accurate, bare-bones budget. Have you cut everything you can cut?" she asked.

LOT also wants to see a more detailed account of how the Board of Education is spending its money.

"We see this year after year. They don't listen to the people,'' said Eric Parnes, co-chairman of LOT. "We are really angry that all they ever do is find ways to steal our money. They should be finding ways to stop the spending."

LOT will be registering voters from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at its headquarters at 128 State St. Referendum petitions also will be available.

The petitions must be returned to the City Clerk's office by June 12 so signatures can be verified. Only residents of the city can sign the petition. The document will then be forwarded to the City Council for further action.

Last year, LOT petitioned, and voters rejected, the 2012-13 municipal government budget. The City Council cut the spending plan by $1 million, passing a new budget with a 5.5 percent tax increase.

Still unhappy with the cuts, LOT brought a second petition. But the City Council scheduled the second referendum for the upcoming November election, which will be about five months after the fiscal year ends.

LOT has filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging the municipality is illegally collecting taxes and paying its bills because it does not have an approved 2012-13 budget. The lawsuit is pending in state Superior Court.


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