Despite a brief and unsuccessful attempt to eliminate the school district’s requested 0.34 percent budget increase, the Legislative Council unanimously voted to send a budget plan to referendum representing the first tax rate decrease in memory. On April 1, the council endorsed a 2015-16 budget proposal of $111,730,513, representing a 0.6 percent spending increase over the current year. If approved as endorsed by the council in an April 28 referendum, the new spending plan would represent a net reduction in taxation of 0.71 percent, with a new tax rate of 33.07 mills, about a one-third of a mill reduction from the current rate of 33.31.
Trails at Fairfield Hills will be extended this spring, adding nearly another paved mile through the sprawling, scenic campus. Addressing the Fairfield Hills Authority earlier this month, Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold explained the trails project, which will extend the existing paved passive recreation surface. With a budgeted $300,000 in this year’s capital improvement plan, a recent bid came in from LRM Construction for $291,000, which was “great,” Ms Mangold said.
Newtown Board of Realtors president Barbara Frey is pleased with the direction the housing market in Newtown is headed this year. “There’s a real positive feeling in the air,” she said. Despite year-to-date sales slightly off from this time one year ago (60 homes sold since January 2015 versus 66 that period in 2014), it is an “extremely active market right now. Agents tell me they are busy morning to night,” Ms Frey said. Fifty-two homes have recently gone under deposit. There are an additional 23 pending sales, as of March 25.
The Newtown/Sandy Hook market currently has 255 single-family homes listed for sale, a number that Ms Frey said seems reasonable. As recently as this past September, 284 houses were listed for sale. According to information provided to The Newtown Bee by the local board in 2013, Newtown’s inventory was 253 at that time, down from a 2012 high of 319 homes on the market.
Newtown Parks & Recreation has announced that the turf fields at Treadwell Park and Tilson Field will once again remain closed for at least another 24 hours, if not longer. The fields have not yet been opened for the season.
The Newtown Police Department has received reaccreditation from the state’s Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POSTC), signifying the department’s continuing compliance with a broad range of law enforcement standards. The recognition provides the department with certain credentials in the field of municipal law enforcement. The department received the Tier 1 reaccreditation from POSTC. There are three levels of accreditation, with Tier 1 being the basic level. It is the fourth time that the police department has received accreditation. The current Tier 1 accreditation status runs for three years. Police Chief Michael Kehoe, along with Lt Christopher Vanghele, who is the department’s accreditation manager, and also Cynthia Mazzucco, who is an administrative assistant at the police department, attended a POSTC session in March to formally receive an accreditation certificate.
Only two men attempted to attend a community center information session Tuesday evening, March 31. They didn't get word that it had been canceled several hours earlier.
The cancelation followed the day's news that First Selectman Pat Llodra, in a brief statement, had recommended to the Board of Selectman that a vote on April 28 concerning the community center "not go forward as planned." Future public forums on April 2 and 9 were also canceled. Residents would have had the opportunity on April 28 during the annual budget referendum to cast a vote on the receipt and use of a $15 million gift from the GE Foundation for a three-phased community center project.
Speaking about her decision Tuesday, Mrs Llodra said she "spent a sleepless night, and decided we have to take a pause here, let's go back to the Board of Selectmen and decide how to go forward." The decision "has been on my mind for a while; I have felt unsettled."
Each year, just prior to Memorial Day, members of Newtown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 308 place new flags on the graves of all veterans buried in Newtown, a way of honoring departed service members each May. This year, said Donna Monteleone Randle, Chaplain for Post 308 and District 1, the VFW is seeking assistance from other organizations or individuals in town who would be willing to help place the flags.