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Town Votes 'Yes' on 2011-12 Budget

Both the school and operating budgets pass after Thursday's referendum.

Though not by a wide margin, Bethel voters approved the 2011-12 town operating budget and schools budget; a total budget of $63,051,471 that will be in effect starting July 1, 2011.

More than 2,600 of the estimated 11,000 registered Bethel voters went to the polls Thursday or about 24.2 percent of all voters. Districts 1-3, 5 and absentee ballots had a majority of "yes" votes, while district four was the only one that had a majority of "no" votes.

Overall, approximately 57 percent of voters approved of the town operating budget and 55 percent approved the Board of Education budget.

First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker said he was pleased with the outcome of the passing budget (see video), especially with a dark economic climate both federally and within the state.

"I am very happy with the outcome," Knickerbocker said Thursday night at Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center. "...I know not everyone voted 'yes' and  I'm sensitive to the people who felt they couldn't afford it. I pledge to do my best to keep spending as low as possible [next year]."

On the education side, Dr. Gary Chesley, Bethel school's superintendent, said the budget passing was "terrific."

"It's been a long, several weeks, but we kept [the budget low], kept jobs and it's good for the kids," Chesley said.

Board of Education Chairman Larry Craybas cited the board's transparency as why Bethel residents voted "yes" for the education budget.

"I feel we were able to tell our story," Craybas said. "We provided the town with information and facts; lots of people depend on hearing both sides when choosing to vote."

Craybas also said the budget will continue Bethel's commitment to academic achievement. "We serve the kids to give them the education they need when they enter the real world," Craybas said.

Below are the raw results for each question and non-binding question on Thursday's ballot that are separated by each district. Districts 1 and 4 were polled at the municipal center, district 2 at Stony Hill Fire House and districts 3 and 5 at the Berry School.

Question 1: Town Municipal Budget - Shall the Town of Bethel appropriate the sum of Twenty Four Million Nine Hundred Sixty Seven Thousand Four Hundred Seventy Five ($24,967,475.00) Dollars as approved by the Annual Town Meeting of May 2, 2011 as the Annual Town Operating Budget for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 2011.

Yes No District 1 124 89 District 2 508 332 District 3 512 373 District 4 264 286 District 5 83 55 Absentee 29 9 Total: 1520 (57%) 1144 (43%)

Question 2: Town Education Budget - Shall the Town of Bethel appropriate the sum of Thirty Seven Million Nine Hundred Ninety One Thousand Fifty ($37,991,050.00) Dollars as approved by the Annual Town Meeting of May 2, 2011 as the Annual Town Board of Education Budget for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 2011. 

Yes No District 1 117 94 District 2 496 341 District 3 509 375 District 4 240 311 District 5 81 57 Absentee 26 11 Total: 1469 (55%) 1189 (45%)

Non Biding Advisory Question 1 - Is the recommended Annual Town Budget in the amount of Twenty Four Million Nine Hundred Sixty Seven Thousand Four Hundred Seventy Five ($24,967,475.00) Dollars...

Too High Too Low District 1 117 51 District 2 458 219 District 3 494 207 District 4 347 112 District 5 77 28 Absentee 16 10 Total: 1509 (71%) 627 (29%)

Non Biding Advisory Question 2 - Is the recommended Annual Board of Education Budget of Thirty Seven Million Nine Hundred Ninety One Thousand Fifty ($37,991,050.00) Dollars...

Too High Too Low District 1 111 68 District 2 415 287 District 3 448 285 District 4 350 131 District 5 69 40 Absentee 16 11 Total: 1490 (64%) 822 (36%)
Taking Notes May 13, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Matt Knickerbocker says: "I know not everyone voted 'yes' and I'm sensitive to the people who felt they couldn't afford it. I pledge to do my best to keep spending as low as possible [next year]." I'll be holding you to this, Mr. Knickerbocker. You said it.
Pat Forger May 13, 2011 at 02:06 PM
"I feel we were able to tell our story," Craybas said. "We provided the town with information and facts; lots of people depend on hearing both sides when choosing to vote." Telling our "story" is a good way to put it - hearing both sides? Let's see how long it takes for some "found" funds in either the Town or school budgets - some unknown savings that they would never have been able to predict. This seems to happen quite often in years past but do the voters benefit? I love reading fiction "stories" but not when they impact my wallet.
Frankin Buckley May 13, 2011 at 02:40 PM
I was very sorry to see only 2,600 out of the 11,ooo registered Bethel voters went to the polls Thursday. I thank the 2,600 people for taking the time to vote.
Bill Hillman May 13, 2011 at 05:08 PM
And your real name might be ........
Bother May 13, 2011 at 06:32 PM
Good point, Mr. Hillman. How can anyone calling themselves "Taking Notes" hold anyone to anything? Nice talking to you last night, Bill. And indeed, how much nicer it would be if more than a quarter of the eligible voters showed up. The fall election for First Selectman is likely to generate greater voter interest and better turn out. Yesterday we had both major parties in agreement and that can suppress turnout. Not that all the voters were in agreement, clearly.

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