East Lyme voters approve $74.1 million town budget

East Lyme — In a low but typical turnout for a budget referendum, according to Assistant Registrar Pam Stevens, voters on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the town’s total $74.1 million budget proposed for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Residents voted 685 to 232 to support the budget, which reflects a 2.52 percent, or $1.8 million, increase over this year’s spending plan.

The Board of Finance on Tuesday will finalize the mill rate. The board proposed a 28.19 mill rate, which is 0.84 mill higher than this year’s 27.35 mill rate. If set at 28.19, a home assessed at $250,000 would pay an increase of $210 in taxes next year, while a home assessed at $450,000 would pay an additional $378, Finance Director Anna Johnson said Tuesday.

First Selectman Mark Nickerson said Thursday that the proposed mill rate could change slightly, depending on projected Education Cost Sharing revenue from the state, which he said is still in flux but potentially could change “to the town’s benefit.”

As part of the total town budget, the education budget also passed at $49.2 million, which adds $1.2 million, or 2.66 percent, compared to this year’s education spending plan.

The Board of Education will, over the coming weeks, have to work with $250,000 less than the $49.5 million it originally requested after the Board of Finance made reductions in April.

Superintendent Jeffrey Newton has warned those reductions may result in cuts to middle school sports, pay-for-play sports at the high school and reduced student programming, among other changes, as a letter sent to parents outlined before the town's public budget hearing in April.

At Monday's Board of Education meeting, Newton and board members discussed cutting or restructuring certain high school and middle school sports, as well as possibly eliminating or reducing an elementary foreign language program. No decisions were made at the meeting.

The Board of Education will continue those discussions at its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. June 10.

m.biekert@theday.com

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