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NEW FAIRFIELD – First Selectman Pat Del Monaco kicked off the January 11 Board of Selectmen meeting by presenting New Fairfield High School senior Jeremy Perillo with a proclamation for his outstanding community service. In presenting the proclamation, Ms. Del Monaco noted that “Jeremy recently received the Emerging Hero award from the United Way of Western CT after conducting crutch drives for the past four years. Jeremy collected over 400 unneeded crutches, walkers, and other mobility devices for delivery to AmeriCares for distribution around the world.”

Mr. Perillo is also Senior Class President, captain of the cross country team, an Eagle Scout and Assistant Scout Master of Boy Scout Troop 42.

Ms. Del Monaco noted that there is an energy assistance program for residents in need of help this winter. She directed residents to the Town website for information and suggested they call New Fairfield Social Services at 203-312-5669 if they have a need. She also stated that the Choices Health Insurance Counseling Program is also available through New Fairfield Social Services as well.

Selectmen Khris Hall stated that while the First Selectman has traditionally had set office hours, selectmen did not. Ms. Hall announced that she will be holding two “Listening Hours” a week at the library. They will take place every Monday evening from 5:30 to 6:30 and every Thursday morning from 10:00 to 11:00, except holidays. All residents are invited to attend and speak with Ms. Hall about whatever is on their mind.

The Board also discussed the 2016-17 fiscal year budget surplus. The BOS has been asked by the Board of Finance to submit a recommendation on how it would apply any surplus funds to the Town budget at the BOF’s January 18 meeting. They noted the BOF’s policy that all surplus from revenue and 50% of operational surplus go to the General Fund.

Items totaling $123,037.61 were discussed including partial funding for a Zoning Department vehicle, the cost to expand EMT coverage on weekends (currently covered by volunteers), the completion of the AC replacement in the Police Department, material cost to replace the entry doors at Public Works and the back doors at Town Hall, and an update to the VOIP phone system.

The Board voted to present a request for the $123k figure to the BOF at its January 17 meeting. If the BOF approves, then the proposal would go to a town meeting for final approval and the amount would be moved from the Town’s General Fund into the proposed line items in the Town’s current budget.

Discussion moved to an update regarding the institution of a selectmen page on Facebook that had been discussed at the Board’s previous meeting. Ms. Del Monaco reported that she had reviewed other municipal Facebook pages and had discovered that the majority of towns in the area have a town Facebook page rather than a selectmen page. With that in mind, she recommended that the Board establish a town Facebook page.

The page’s purpose would still be to post information on town events and emergency events in town as well as items from Social Services, the library, meetings, etc. She noted there was no way to turn off comments overall, and suggested that the public be directed to the website and town hall with comments and questions.. The goal of the page is to be informational and non-political.

Discussion ensued. Selectman Kim Hanson had questions about how comments and the page be managed. Ms. Del Monaco stated that the page would be administered by her office prior to posting. Mr. Hanson stated the need for a formal policy before launch. It was decided that a draft page and written policy would be formulated and presented at a future BOS meeting for a vote prior to launch.

Mr. Hanson brought up the subject of lake studies and the feasibility of a geographic information system (GIS) survey of Candlewood Lake. He proposed approaching the Candlewood Lake Authority (CLA) for date that it had compiled over the years that the Town could use to develop an overlay to map high density areas of milfoil and perhaps water quality and how weather conditions might affect them.

Mr. Hanson also expressed concern that no control was in place to determine the effectiveness of the carp on milfoil levels in the lake compared to other factors such as drawdowns. A discussion followed about CLA’s willingness to tackle the question and that of carp mortality. Mr. Hanson felt that the CLA was unwilling and that perhaps the Town should take the lead and offer to work on these issues. Ms. Del Monaco and Ms. Hall felt that the CLA was following the guidance of the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) and that New Fairfield should not venture out on its own pursuit of a solution, but should work with the CLA and the other towns in the region.

The next regular Board of Selectmen meeting is Thursday, January 25 at 7:30pm.

By Greg Slomba