Voters OK school, town budgets

Milford passes 29 of 31 warrant articles on ballot

MILFORD – All six School District warrant articles and 29 of the 31 warrant articles passed when Milford held its postponed election day on Saturday, March 18.

The school and town operating budgets both passed easily, the school’s by more than a 4-1 margin and the town’s by a 2-1 margin.

The school budget of $40.6 million passed 1,359-451, and the town operating budget of $13.9 million passed 1.248-556.

Among the articles that passed was self-funded full-day kindergarten, which had been a topic of much discussion leading up to voting day. The article passed 1,045-796.

In a key town warrant article, voters sent a clear message regarding the future of the town’s roads, approving well in excess of the necessary 60 percent supermajority a proposed $2 million bond for the reconstruction of town roadways.

The supermajority, in this case at least 1,082 “yes” votes, was necessary because the proposal involves a bond. With 81.5 percent of the votes in favor, the measure easily cleared the 60 percent hurdle.

Only Question 17, which sought $170,000 for a lease-purchase agreement on an 8-cubic-yard dump truck, and Question 19, which called for a lease-purchase on a $110,000 tractor backhoe, were voted down, although by fewer than 80 votes each.

A similar Question 18 – proposing that the Public Works Department enter a lease-purchase agreement for a $120,000 grader vehicle – passed by more than 200 votes.

Voters elected Kevin Drew and Jenni Siegrist to the two open School Board seats with 890 and 862 votes respectively. Rick Wood was third with 837 votes and Michael Hannon was fourth with 609.

Selectman Mike Putnam retained his seat in the five-way race for two seats on the board. Joining him will be newcomer Laura Dudziak, who edged third-place finisher Suzanne Fournier by 49 votes, 654-605.

Challenger Susan I. Smith was fourth with 558 votes, while Roger Tilton, a venture capitalist who advocated for changing Milford to a mayor and council form of government, came in fifth with 362.

Fewer than 20 percent of Milford’s registered voters made it to the polls for the elections, which were postponed because of a snowstorm on Tuesday, March 14.

As he watched voters come and go, Moderator Pro Tempore Stephen Martin said things were slow at first, but the stream of voters picked up as noon approached.

“The first two hours were very light, as you would expect, but the last three have been very heavy,” Martin said.

Roughly half of the 1,865 total votes had been cast by noon, Martin estimated.

Town Clerk Joan Dargie said the 1,865 figure represents 16.7 percent of the town’s 11,128 registered voters. That number doesn’t include the 21 new voters who registered at the polls.

Martin said he agreed with the decision to postpone voting to Saturday because of Tuesday’s heavy snowstorm.

“We’ve had a lot of people thank us for not holding the election” Tuesday, he said. “So there are a lot of people who would not have voted on Tuesday because of the weather.”

Martin said the decision that gets the most people to vote is the right decision, and voter Elizabeth Dexter agreed with his assessment.

“It’s a good thing,” Dexter said. “Why put life and limb at risk? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Dexter said she wouldn’t have voted if the election had been held Tuesday.

“It was horrible out and the roads were bad, and they weren’t out treating them right away because the storm picked up so quickly,” she said.

Although she declined to specify how she voted, Dexter said she focused on what would affect the tax rate.

“Like with most things, you take a look at what’s going to impact the tax base, and if you’re a property owner, it definitely impacts you immediately,” she said.

Mary Dickson, who is an administrative assistant for the Public Works Department, said she voted for articles that supported the town’s public works needs. She agreed it was a good decision to reschedule election day.

“I think it was an excellent idea,” Dickson said. “I know how miserable the roads were,” she said.

Like Dexter, Dickson said she wouldn’t have voted if the election had been held Tuesday.

“Getting elderly people out in that, that’s just nuts,” she said.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256 or dshalhoup@cabinet.com. Derek Edry can be reached at 594-1243 or dedry@cabinet.com.

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