Ridgefield voters approve $156 million spending plan , but turnout low

RIDGEFIELD — A 3.22 percent spending increase for 2022-23 passed Tuesday’s referendum with participation from less than 7 percent of the town’s eligible voters.

Reflecting a 3.22 percent year-over-year increase, the nearly $156 million spending plan includes $106.6 million in school funding, $47.5 million for town operation expenses and $1.6 million for road and Americans with Disabilities Act infrastructure improvements.

Although he would have liked to see more people come out and vote, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said he’s happy with the results of the recent referendum.

“Turnout was approximately 6.9 percent, which is sad, but everything passed substantially and I’m very happy that they did,” he said Tuesday night.

The $47.5 million town budget — which includes $39.2 million for operating expenses and nearly $8.3 million in debt service — passed Tuesday’s referendum by a 975-to-208 vote, while the $106.6 million school budget passed by a 860-to-321 vote.

Funding for road and ADA improvements passed by a 1,062-to-123 vote.

Following the referendum, the Board of Finance set Ridgefield’s mill rate for the next fiscal year is set at 28.43 — a 0.77 percent tax increase over the town’s current rate.

With a 28.43 mill rate, the owner of a home with an assessed value of $770,000 would pay around $21,891 in property taxes in 2022-23.

Of the 17,328 eligible voters in town, only 1,187 participated in Tuesday’s referendum, according to the Ridgefield Registrar of Voters Office.

“I certainly wish there were more people voting. However, these are interesting times we live in,” Marconi said. “I don’t know how much COVID had to do with it — or if it had to do with the fact that we only had a 0.77 percent increase in the mill rate.”

Marconi said he suspects the latter.

“Sometimes when you’re as low as this — under 1 percent — people have a tendency to not vote because they’re OK with it,” he said. “I’m going to take it as a positive — that people are satisfied with the town and the way it’s being managed.”