CLINTON — Residents will reconsider a budget for the Police Department at a special town meeting Aug. 18 after the most recent proposal was rejected narrowly Tuesday in a referendum.

Town officials, including Police Chief Craig Johnson, say they were surprised the budget was rejected at the polls. The vote was 150-140.

The rejection means that either the Board of Selectmen will need to come up with a budget for the department or the town will need to hold a special town meeting to approve a budget, as it did two years ago when the police budget was voted down. In the meantime, the Police Department will continue to operate month-to-month on last year’s budget.

“I was just dumbfounded when the Police Department budget didn’t pass,” said Selectman Ronnie Irving at a board meeting Thursday night. “I’ve heard no complaints, and I would like to know what people’s complaints are and why they voted no.”

The board decided Thursday to hold a special town meeting on August 18, at which residents can reconsider a police budget as well as funding for the assessor’s agent and the code enforcement officer. The budget for those positions also was rejected Tuesday.

The selectmen voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on the failed budgets on June 23.


“People were taken by surprise,” Police Chief Craig Johnson said Thursday. “Nobody has said anything negative. We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback.”

This isn’t the first time Clinton voters have questioned the police budget.

In 2013, voters rejected a $197,954 police budget amid complaints about the conduct of officers in the department. After three public hearings, that budget eventually passed two months later in a special referendum.

Johnson said he hasn’t heard any recent complaints about the department and is puzzled about why the budget was rejected.

The proposed $241,673 budget is up about 3 percent from last year’s $233,151. The increase is mostly because of changes in health insurance and Social Security costs, Johnson said. A $3.2 million total budget was approved Tuesday, not including money for the police or for an account that pays for the town assessor agent, code enforcement, building inspector, plumbing inspector and health office. That budget, proposed at $41,358, was rejected 151-139.

One resident at Thursday night’s meeting, Mike Walton, said part of the reason the police budget didn’t pass is poor voter turnout.


“We go through this year after year,” Walton said. “Some people just hate the police, period, and some don’t want to spend the money. There’s a variety of reasons, and there’s a block of people that are always going to say no.”

Town Clerk and Town Office Manager Pam Violette also said the budget rejection came as a surprise at the Town Office, which also hasn’t received a lot of complaints about the Police Department.

“Hopefully, we’ll get some input at the public hearing, and if we don’t, we’ll have to go with what we feel (is appropriate),” Irving said.

In other results from Tuesday’s vote, Stephen Hatch was elected to a two-year term on the Board of Selectman with 165 votes, beating Tracy Weymuth, 89 votes, and Willie Mooney, 27.

Irving was re-elected to a three-year term on the board with 191 votes. Randy Clark got 82.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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