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Selectmen Approve $90,000 In ARP Funds For Bus



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The Board of Selectmen (BOS) at its May 16 meeting approved $90,000 from the town’s American Rescue Plan funding for a 14-seat bus for the Community Center and Senior Center.

Community Center Director Matt Ariniello said the bus will replace a van purchased in 2008, and will allow the community center to continue to offer expanded programs by allowing the center to transport students from the schools to the center in the afternoons. It will also allow the senior center to expand its field trips and off-site programming.

Selectman Ed Schierloh said that the old van “was not in good condition.”

“We [the ARP Work Group] thought it would be a good use of the ARP funds,” said Schierloh. “So that they have something reliable.”

The Board of Selectmen approved the appropriation unanimously. The appropriation must still go before the Board of Finance and the Legislative Council for approvals.

The senior center bus represents the latest recommendation originating from the ARP Work Group, a joint subcommittee formed from members of the BOS, Board of Finance (BOF), and Legislative Council.

Board of Finance member Geoffrey Dent commented at the BOF’s May 9 meeting that the Town began with $7.6 million in ARP funding and has so far approved approximately $5.5 million. There is approximately $2 million remaining in the fund. The town has until 2026 to spend all the funding.

Previously, the town government bodies approved $1.5 million for a water distribution center at Fairfield Hills; $190,000 for a roof replacement of the multi-purpose building; $50,000 to replace or repair some underground fire suppression tanks; a $325,000 reimbursement to the town’s self-funded insurance for costs of COVID; and $40,000 for COVID-related supplies.

Also, $200,000 for improvements at the transfer station; $100,000 for improvements at the Municipal Center; $90,000 for a dump truck for the Parks & Recreation Department; $150,000 for a refurbishment of the Dickinson Park pavilion; $75,000 for outside storage at the Community Center; $155,000 for a patio at the Community Center; and $16,000 for lift assist handicap-accessible doors at the Senior Center.

In addition, $15,000 in grants was approved for each of four town volunteer fire companies, Newtown Underwater Search and Rescue (NUSAR), and the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps (NVAC). Newtown Hook and Ladder is getting an allocation of $15,000 in ARP funds from the Borough of Newtown.

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said the focus has been on using the money for things that the town was already planning on spending money on, “rather than open up the floodgates for things we never would have considered.”

“While we can’t use the money to reduce taxes, we can help the taxpayers by using the money on things we were going to do anyway,” said Rosenthal.

Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

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1 comment
  1. tomj says:

    It is shameful how much of the ARP money was used to increase politicians’ political standing and padding local budgets. The American rescue plan was created to “provide emergency grants, lending, and investment to hard-hit small businesses so they can rehire and retain workers”. I am not sure how a patio at the Community Center, a bus, a dump truck, or really any of these helped small businesses. The sense of overwhelming entitlement to the sentiment that it is a free money and we need to use it by 2026 just makes me sad.

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