Morris voters will head back to the polls for a fourth referendum on a proposed budget for 2017-18, a fiscal year now in its eighth month.
The referendum on the proposed budget of $9,409,802 will be held Feb. 14, from noon to 8 p.m. Three previous budgets proposed by the Board of Finance have failed in referendums since June.
The proposed budget is $329,589, or 3.6 percent, higher than the 2016-17 budget of $9,080,213. The tax rate would be 28.65 mills, an increase of .82 mills over the tax rate of 27.83 mills for 2016-17, if the spending plan is approved.
The date and hours for the referendum were set during a town meeting Wednesday. About 20 residents attended the meeting, which would have seen the proposed budget voted on until a petition forced the referendum.
A petition drive led by Selectman Vincent Aiello gathered the required signatures of 200 voters. Petitions were submitted to the town clerk last week and on Monday to seal the referendum’s certainty. A total of 220 voters signed the petitions, Aiello said.
The referendum, Aiello said after Wednesday’s meeting, will give more voters a chance to vote.
Although he said he supports the proposed budget and would prefer to see it approved in the referendum, Aiello said there are key issues voters need to be aware of as they prepare to cast their vote. The biggest issue, he said, is First Selectman Thomas Weik receiving insurance benefits from the town.
Aiello claims the benefits were awarded without the knowledge of the Board of Finance or residents. Weik, however, is entitled to the benefits under federal law because he works more than 29 hours a week, according to the Board of Finance.
The proposed budget includes $6,635,650 for the adopted Region 6 Board of Education budget for 2017-18. The increase in education spending of $253,000 over 2016-17 levels consumes all of the proposed .82-mill increase in the tax rate.