Canterbury goes to polls for fourth time
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Canterbury - posted Mon., Sep. 9, 2013
The Canterbury Board of Selectmen set the date for a town meeting and a fourth budget referendum at its meeting on Sept. 3. A town meeting to discuss the proposed changes to the budget, with a .5 mil increase, will be held on Sept. 19, at 7 p.m., at the town hall. The referendum will be held on Sept. 24 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Residents voted down proposed budgets that included a 1.5 mil, a 1.0 mil and a .3 mil increase. With only 11 percent of the town's 3,349 residents voting, the initial general government budget was defeated 233 to 125. Twenty percent of the town's registered voters turned out for the second and third referendums, and both times the general government budgets were defeated by 56 percent of the vote.
“We were able to restore some cuts because of the savings we got elsewhere,” said First Selectman Brian Sear. “That, combined with going from a .3 to a .5 mil increase, means that our net fund balance is $76,000 and change.” He said that figure has traditionally run between $40,000 and $120,000. Cuts to a senior citizens event, the library, the transfer station and gym were restored. Sear attributed savings to someone dropping out of the town's health insurance plan and a new contract with Willimantic Waste.
Canterbury has not had a mil increase in five years. Some residents hoped to continue that trend.
“I don't think there's a budget I ever voted yes for,” said Chris Lippke. “Regardless of how bare bones they claim it is, there always seems to be a little more meat that can be trimmed. Yes, the fund balance has been depleted, but if you have rational budgeting and if you provide the services the residents want at the best price possible, the town can get by quite well.”
The depletion of the fund balance had Chair Robert Droesch concerned at the last Board of Finance meeting on Aug. 14. “I've never seen it this low,” he said. A new roof for the town's elementary school cost the town $280,000. That money was taken from the town's fund balance.
Lippke would have preferred that the town bond that amount of money. “A new roof is an expensive project,” he said. “That's what bonding is for. At today's interest rates, to spend the fund balance down wasn't the rational thing to do, in my opinion.”
The other issues that came before the board included a land conveyance issue and a STEAP grant resolution. Someone suggested that handouts be made available at the transfer station for what's allowed in the single stream system.
Bids for site work on Robert Manship Park will be opened on Sept. 24.