Newtown’s Charter Revision Commission was still busily working through the holidays and into the New Year, but most of the commissioners’ efforts were focused in subcommittees, according to Chairman Jeff Capeci. “We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, but I’m hoping by about a month from now we can get closure on the committee work and get moving on our main charge,” he told The Newtown Bee January 7. “”We’ve actually been doing a lot of work at the committee levels.” One committee is working on refining and modifying charter language related to appointed boards and commissions. Another group is working on reorganizing the physical layout of the document.
Under pressure to have an approved capital improvement plan (CIP) to present to ratings agencies ahead of a bond refunding next week, and despite early speculation that officials would not complete deliberation this week, the Legislative Council approved Newtown’s five-year CIP following nearly two hours of discussions focusing on road work, Fairfield Hills, and a new community center development.After indicating to freshman council member Eva Bermudez — who had to depart for a previously scheduled commitment — that the vote would likely not happen until a subsequent meeting, Council Chair Mary Ann Jacob learned later in the meeting that rating agencies would be expecting a completed capital plan as part of the town’s prebonding presentations January 12. The first hour of the session was dominated by Finance Director Robert Tait’s review of last fiscal year’s financial statements and discussions between the council, First Selectman Pat Llodra, and Public Works Director Fred Hurley, who reviewed expenditures to cover winter storm response by his department (see separate story).
During its second workshop for the 2015-16 budget, held on Thursday, January 8, the Board of Education continued to hear from school district leaders regarding individual aspects of the superintendent’s proposed spending plan.
The workshop came after Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, presented his proposed budget to the school board on Tuesday, January 6. Dr Erardi presented a $72,399,186, proposed operating budget, a 1.48 percent increase over this year’s budget on Tuesday. It was the first meeting of multiple budget sessions for the board to deliberate and make possible changes to the budget before it is passed on through the budget process. The budget is set for adoption by the school board at a planned February 5 meeting.
Visible from Old Castle Drive is a panoramic view looking down on the flagpole, church steeples. and rooflines along Main Street. Sitting just off the curb and facing this iconic scene is a small bench perched at the top of a rise that was once a sweeping meadow, but in more recent years has become overgrown and filled with invasives. Newtown Forest Association, which owns the property, has begun a large reclamation project to restore the meadows and fruit tree orchard, trails, and natural beauty once found there.
Town officials this week again tackled the thorny issue of traffic problems at the flagpole intersection, the five-legged intersection in the town center that holds the 100-foot-tall landmark flagpole where Main Street, Church Hill Road, and West Street meet. The flagpole, which is not shielded by barriers, stands squarely in the intersection. The massive pole holds several round yellow-and-black traffic signs, informing motorists to “Go Right” around the pole while negotiating the intersection, which has a high accident rate. Long a historic focal point and an enduring symbol of the town, public discussion of traffic safety at the flagpole occasionally resurfaces at public meetings.
The Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed January 5 to recommend to the Legislative Council that the 36 Yogananda Street residence once occupied by Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza be demolished. The residence was also the site where Lanza murdered his mother, Nancy, before traveling to the local elementary school and perpetrating one of the worst school shootings in US history. Residents have offered different to First Selectman Pat Llodra concerning the property and its dwelling, which is now town-owned land. Funds from a special insurance fund set up after 12/14 will more than cover the demolition costs.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, presented a $72,399,186, proposed operating budget, a 1.48 percent increase over this year’s budget, to the Board of Education on Tuesday, January 6.
The meeting was the first of multiple budget sessions for the school board to look over the proposed superintendent’s budget, deliberate it, and make possible changes. The budget is set for adoption by the board during a planned February 5 meeting.
Dr Erardi explained that the proposed operating budget was the culmination of dozens of meetings and a team effort.