First Selectman Pat Del Monaco began the June 13 special Board of Selectmen meeting by giving an update on the recovery from the May 15 storm. She noted that representatives from FEMA took a 5-hour tour of the town to assess storm damage on Tuesday, June 12. A public assistance team looked at town properties and town roads to assess damage. An individual assessment team visited homes that had major damage in town. They also reviewed information gathered by the Town over the past month, including photos and damage estimates submitted by residents. Ms. Del Monaco said that the representatives were impressed by the documentation and said they noted they received a lot more information than they typically do.
Ms. Del Monaco stated that FEMA did not give a timeline for the process. She noted the teams that visited were regional teams and that they will prepare a report that will be forwarded to FEMA in Washington and that FEMA would then prepare a declaration that includes the type and monetary value of any potential aid that might be recommended.
FEMA did say that they would only potentially reimburse the town for brush cleanup on roads the Town maintains, not private roads. Ms. Del Monaco noted that this appears to be a relatively new FEMA policy. With that in mind, she proposed that the Town pay for brush cleanup in private communities, noting that residents of those communities pay the same taxes as other residents, but generally receive fewer services from the Town. She also noted that the majority, if not all, of those communities could not afford to pay for cleanup on their own in this extraordinary situation.
Selectman Kim Hanson suggested waiving the building permit application fee for people whose insurance companies won’t cover the cost. Selectman Khris Hall voiced concern that the volume of applications over the coming year will be large, stating that there will be applications made for minor as well as major damage. She wanted further assessment of the potential dollar amount before voting on waiving the fee. It was agreed to table both items pending the gathering of further information.
The Board also voted to reinstate free brush collection at the Town Drop-off Center. Ms. Del Monaco stated that the piles of brush at the center have been reviewed by FEMA and photos and measurements have been taken. The Center is currently at full capacity. She proposed reinstating the free brush drop off for non-commercial residents once the brush currently at the Center has been chipped. Ms. Hall suggested reinstating free drop-off until town-wide brush pickup begins. The Board voted on and approved the reinstatement of free brush drop-off at the Drop-Off Center as soon as room has been made and until town-wide brush pickup begins.
Ms. Del Monaco also gave an update on the School Safety and Security Committee. She noted that the security audit has begun with the documentation process. The audit firm will be onsite at schools the week of June 18. She anticipated having a final report from the audit firm within two weeks of the completion of the audit.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Thursday, June 28 at 7:30pm in the Community Center.
By Greg Slomba