PLAINVILLE — Residents decisively rejected a proposed $3.25 million tax hike Monday, putting dozens of school and public safety jobs in jeopardy.
The vote was 1,479 to 1,030 against an override of the state tax levy limiting law Proposition 2 1/2.
Approval would have cost the owner of an average $391,000 home $186 more each quarter of the fiscal year, or $744 a year, according to the town.
To balance the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, 38 school employees received layoff notices in May and six firefighters and five police officers also face the loss of their jobs. Also under consideration is reducing operating hours at town hall and at the library, senior center/Council on Aging and DPW.
The school staff reductions represent over a quarter of the school workforce, from teachers and administrators to custodians and cafeteria workers. They will bring larger class sizes and elimination of some programs such as band, officials have said.
“I think the people spoke pretty clearly,” selectmen Chairman Jeff Johnson said Monday night after the results of the override election had come in. “We were asking for too much money, did not have enough justification. We have to show we can handle the town’s assets responsibly, and we need to respect the situation residents are in in the pandemic.”
The turnout was 2,509 voters, or nearly 37 percent of the town’s 6,856 registered voters.
“It was a tremendous turnout. I’m grateful for the citizens who voted,” said Johnson, who also praised the election workers for handling all the safety measures prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was very, very busy from the moment the polls opened,” Town Clerk Ellen Robertson said.
The town encouraged early voting because of the virus and over 800 voters mailed in ballots.
All in-person voting was at the public safety building, and several police officers and firefighters headed over with a few dozen others to nearby town hall to await the election results.
Joan Boissonneault, a parent whose daughter is entering college, said she thought the town should have paid more attention to the tax impact on seniors.
“That was way too much,” Boissonneault said of the override amount. “(Seniors) were worried what would happen to them.”
Marc Deblasio said he voted no because his parents have lived in town over 30 years and, “I don’t think they want to see that rise in taxes.”
But he said he was “kind of torn” on how to vote.
The override vote was a special election that was part of the annual town election.
In the only contest in the regular election, Selectman Stanley Widak, who has been filling a one-year unexpired term, narrowly won a three-year term over challenger Christopher Desprez, 1,236 to 1,129.
“It was a very, very close race,” Widak said. “I’d like to thank the people who supported me. I will do the best I can for the people of Plainville.”
Widak won another five-year term on the planning board last year over Desprez, who had served on the zoning board.