Over the course of its last two meetings on February 25 and March 2, the Board of Finance continued its review of the municipal and school district budget proposals, and continued its attempts to define possible additional areas of taxpayer savings.
The Board of Selectman appears to continue having problems making appointments to boards and commission. When the Economic Development Commission was created by the Legislative Council, they specified that there would be term limits of two consecutive three-year appointments. Clearly the Legislative Council felt that more than six years on the commission was not in the best interest of the town.
After months of research and analysis, a former and current Legislative Council member, who stressed they were not working for the council, recommended to the Board of Selectmen last month that the town go forward and determine “the best path” for joining a regional emergency dispatch system. In making their recommendation, Jeff Capeci and Neil Chaudhary emphasized that the town could potentially save 30 percent of the $1.03 million it now spends by consolidating Newtown’s dispatch services with the operations of a regional service in Torrington.
There is enough compelling evidence that public safety could be improved and cost savings realized for a two-person advisory team to advise the Board of Selectmen to consider a formal study on turning local emergency communications over to a specialized regional dispatch organization.
Top elected officials began what is expected to be a slow, deliberate, and complex process to produce the most comprehensive analysis of town-owned buildings and facilities ever mounted in Newtown.
After much pre-meeting discussion, the Board of Selectmen June 2 welcomed Geralyn Hoerauf, AIA, LEED AP, and senior project manager from Diversified Project Management. Ms Hoerauf will be supporting selectmen and other town staff, contractors, and officials through at least the preliminary stages of facilities analysis prep.
The Board of Selectmen approved $15,000 during a meeting March 17 that will underwrite a tickborne disease awareness and prevention campaign that will be launched in the coming weeks by the Newtown Health District.
A Saint Patrick’s Day wish for a nominal tax break may generate a little green for two local developers and their future tenants.
The 146 South Main Street parcel that first received approvals for commercial development 15 years ago now appears to be fast tracked for groundbreaking in the coming weeks after officials endorsed a three-year program of partial tax relief under Newtown’s Business Incentive Plan.
At one point late in the Board of Selectmen’s 2014-15 budget deliberations, Selectman James Gaston, Sr, observed, “You have to be disciplined when times are good and you have to be disciplined when times are bad.”
His comment came as he and fellow Selectman Will Rodgers along with First Selectman Pat Llodra prepared to move a municipal budget request to the Board of Finance representing a 0.3 percent overall increase above the current year.
The opening session of the Board of Selectmen’s 2013-14 budget deliberations were as much an analysis of municipal spending over the past seven years as it was a review of anticipated spending for the upcoming fiscal cycle.
A growing number of officials believe that helping residents better understand the relationship between declining student enrollment and the amount school leaders will ask taxpayers to underwrite next year could help pass the annual budget referendum sooner.
Providing additional evidence to taxpayers that town and district leaders are working collaboratively, and with mutual support for each other’s spending proposals, could also go far toward propelling a first-round budget vote to passage, some officials believe.