May 14, 2021

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Hold Budget Referendum Today, Polls Open12-8pm; Griswold Urged BOE to ‘Skip Referendum’

LYME/OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Board of Education (BOE) are holding a referendum today, Tuesday, May 4, on their proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Voting will take place from 12 noon to 8 p.m. at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School for Old Lyme residents and Lyme Town Hall for Lyme residents.

Information on absentee ballot and voter information is available at the following links:

Members of the BOE voted at the Budget Meeting held Monday evening to move the public vote to approve the budget to an in-person referendum scheduled for the following day.

The proposed budget totals $34,874, 548 representing a 0.47 percent increase over the current year’s budget. When this total is combined with last year’s decrease of 1.06 percent, the total change over two years is -0.6 percent or $210,210.

This is the first time in many years that the polls will not open until 12 noon — traditionally voting in both towns begins at 6 a.m.

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold (File photo)

Responding to a question from LymeLine questioning how this time change came about, Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold said by email, “I urged the School Board to vote the budget and skip the referendum because the budget is uncontroversial and actually has a slight decrease.”

He noted, however, “The School Board believes that it is more transparent to have an in person vote.”

Griswold went on to explain his viewpoint further, saying, “Old Lyme has about 400 voters (out of about 6,000) [who vote in the referendum, on average.] Usually, voting occurs during the hours of 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM or 14 hours. That translates to about 29 voters per hour in Old Lyme.”

He noted, “We need about 12 staff to run the polls so the Town would likely need about double that to run two shifts of about seven hours each.”

Adding, “Then, we need to have absentee ballots which means less in person voters.”

Griswold said, “In the end, we discovered this type of vote must be from noon to 8:00 PM or eight hours. Now we are up to about 50 voters per hour.”

“While the cost of running the voting in two towns is a School District expense,” Griswold pointed out, “the Towns fund the District so Old Lyme pays over 80% of the bill.”

In conclusion, he stated, “If the school budget were controversial, in person voting would make sense but this budget is not controversial. We shall see the how many people turn out.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School will not be closed during voting hours — students will be following a regular school day.

Asked how voters would be kept separate from students and faculty during the period when polling station opening times overlap with school being in session, LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained to LymeLine by email, “Voters will enter through the two exterior doors in the north corner of the gymnasium near the multi-purpose room.  They will use those same two doors to exit.  Their access will be limited to the gymnasium only.”

Neviaser said this new timing was initiated because, “the [Lyme-Old Lyme] Board [of Education] adjusted the time at the request of the Town of Old Lyme due to concerns regarding COVID.”

He continued, “Depending on how it goes this year we may consider this new time period for future referendums.  Many other regional school districts use the 12-8 [p.m.] time period.”

Neviaser concluded, “When using the school for voting, the change in time is beneficial in regard to visitor management.”

Comments

  1. The school board is forcing an unnecessary expense for an unnecessary referendum on Lyme’s voters. Just another reason to rethink local Vs regional control of our school system

  2. Maureen Haseley-Jones says

    Transparency in local, municipal and federal govts. is important. So glad the referendum is going forward.

  3. Christina says

    Is the 80% of the cost for the voting machines or supplies?

  4. Thomas D. Gotowka says

    As I write this, my wife and I are just leaving to vote on the BOE budget. I have no idea of the total costs borne by the towns for in-person voting, but let’s encourage every eligible citizen to vote. I always get a kick from Mayor James Michael Curley’s campaign song, which begins: “vote early and often for Curley.”

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