(NECN/NBC News: Jamie Ratliff, Winchester, Conn.) - Voters in Winchester, Conn. have passed a referendum so their three public schools will remain open after considering closing them due to a financial crisis.
The town's request for a two million dollar Bank of America loan, all of which must go towards education, passed with 79% of the vote from 16% of Winchester registered voters.
"It’s not a surprise. Winsted is a tough town, tough people, hard workers, and they want Winsted to move forward. We're open for business, and we want people to come visit us," said mayor Lisa Smith.
Throughout the day, voters lined up to say yes or no to the loan. The town said the vote had to take place to prevent their schools from closing in December.
Winchester officials say much of their financial problems revolve around Henry Centrella.
Centrella was the town's former finance director. He is now being blamed for the cash flow problems. He's been arrested for allegedly embezzling 2.5 million dollars.
Centrella pled not guilty to first degree larceny on Friday, but the results of the vote have officials believing they're on the road to recovery.
Town manager Dale Martin says the loan will come at about a 2% interest rate.
All the money must be paid back by May 15, which the town says it can do thanks to four million dollars in a state education grant they'll receive before then.
"We’re probably back on the way to restoring our financial footing,” said Martin.
The long-term solution comes in the form of a supplemental tax which only requires a vote by the board of selectmen to implement.
Martin believes it'll pass.
"I think it's a good step forward, and we'll make sure we work with the board of ed to be better positioned for next year," Martin explained.
The proposed supplemental tax will be considered at the board of selectmen meeting Monday night.