Record turnout of 48%, teachers approve concessions
AVON, May 12 – In the largest turnover ever for a budget referendum in town, voters in Avon approved a $72.87 million budget Wednesday by nearly 900 votes. The 2010-11 budget prevailed by a vote of 3,243 to 2,361.
The budget represents a 2.8 percent increase in spending over this year’s budget and will require a 4.4 increase in the town’s mill rate. The town portion of the budget is $19.1 million, an increase of 2.8 percent over this year’s budget and the education portion of the approved budget is $45.9 million, an increase of 4.5 percent over the current budget.
Over 48 percent of registered votes eligible to vote came to the polls, sparked by an effort by Coalition of Citizens for Avon, an organization of school parents that has worked to sign up new votes and get supporters to the polls.
Members of the coalition erupted in celebration at the Senior Center when the voting results were announced shortly after 8 p.m. “I’m estatic,” coalition president Abha Bernard said. “I can’t begin to say how thrilled we are on behalf of these guys.” Bernard pointed to her four children, who are between age 7 and 14. “This is why Scott (her husband) and I got involved.
“We’re very happy but not just for the schools. It’s for the community. The rest of the budget remains intact.”
Florence Stahl, president of the Avon Taxpayers Association, said, “It was worth the fight. We advanced the notion of fiscal responsibility. It was a worthwhile message to get out. We wish the town well. It’s a great town.”
Tom Harrison, chairman of the Board of Finance said, “I’m grateful that the Avon residents approved the budget that the Board of Finance recommended. This has been a very challenging year for the town budget. Our board recommended this compromise that we truly believed would be in the best interest of the town as a whole.”
In April, the Board of Finance cut $1.05 million from the Board of Education’s original budget request. While thrilled with the outcome, the Board is still working to reduce its original proposal.
“We’re obviously pleased that the majority of voters agreed that the budgets as presented were in the best interest of the entire town,” said Peggy Roell, chairwoman of the Board of Education. “On behalf of the Board of Education, we want to thank the Coalition of Citizens for Avon for their effort to get the vote out. The turnout was fantastic.”
Roell also thanked the teacher’s union for their approval on Tuesday night of concessions that will save the Board of Education $350,000 this year.
The Avon Education Association agreed to take a 1.2 percent wage increase in 2010-11, the final year of their contact instead of the scheduled 2.41 percent. The teachers will receive a 1.2 percent increase in 2011-12 and a 2.59 percent increase in 2012-13. Raises for teachers eligible for step increases would also be delayed six months.
The Board of Education will continue to work on reductions to meet the $1.05 million cut at its next meeting on Tuesday, May 18.
A revamped proposal from Avon High athletic coordinator Tanya Adorno and interim superintendent Jody Goeler on the pay to play proposal for the Avon High athletic department will likely be early in June.
Parents with comments or suggestions should contact Adorno or Goeler at the high school.