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School Budgets In Larger Communities Defeated

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The Burlington school budget was one of several turned down by voters on Town Meeting Day.

Voters in several of Vermont’s larger communities have rejected school budgets, sending a message to local school boards and perhaps to Montpelier that the proposed tax rates were too high.

The school spending plans went down to defeat in Burlington, Bennington, Rutland and Montpelier. Other communities where budgets were voted down include Colchester, Milton, Westford and Underhill.

The Burlington school budget failed for the first time since 2003. The proposal would have raised school taxes by 9.9 percent.

Burlington voter Colleen O’Brien was in favor of the budget, despite the tax increase.

“We came to vote to support the school budget and to show my daughter how important it is to vote,” she said.

School officials around the state say they tried to present lean budgets. But voters in some communities were apparently frustrated by a funding system that has led to tax increases that were out of scale to the proposed budgets.

In Westford, for example, a school budget increase of just 2.3 percent yielded a tax rate increase of 11 percent. Montpelier's rejected school budget would have increased spending by just more than 2 percent, but would have resulted in a tax increase of about 13 percent. 

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