Preston voters split on budget, reject school plan but approve town proposal
Preston ― Voters on Thursday split on the proposed 2023-24 budgets, rejecting the $14.5 million school budget while approving the $4.9 million town government budget.
Voters rejected the education budget and its 8% spending increase by a vote of 297-260. The town government budget, with a 7% increase, was approved 300-256. About 17% of the town’s 3,208 registered voters cast ballots in the referendum.
Despite the 7% and 8% increases, both budgets had received overwhelming support at the May 11 town meeting, with voters applauding earlier efforts by the Board of Finance to secure cuts from the school system and town government prior to presenting them to voters. The school budget was reduced by $250,000 in expenses, and revenues were raised by $50,000. The town budget was reduced by $66,500 in spending, with another $33,500 in expenditures shifted to grants.
Preston last fall underwent a property revaluation that led to spikes in values for residential properties, prompting some homeowners to complain that they faced a potential $1,500 to $2,000 tax increase even if the new tax rate was lower than last year’s rate. Prior to the vote, the Board of Finance projected the new tax would be 23.24 mills if both budgets were approved, a decrease from the current 27.88 mills.
The Board of Finance was meeting late Thursday to begin work to cut the school budget before setting a new referendum date.
Day Staff Writer Elizabeth Regan contributed to this report.