A date for a machine vote on the 2019-2020 budget was set by voters at the Annual Town Meeting held before the BOS regular meeting on April 25. The date of the machine vote will be Saturday, May 4 at Meeting House Hill School between 10am and 8pm.
At its regular meeting, which followed directly after the Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen discussed the current fees charged at the town Drop Off Center. It was noted by First Selectman Pat Del Monaco that the Town stood to lose roughly $69,000 this year. She said that $60,000 of that loss was due to the need to clear space to accommodate debris collected from the microburst storm last May, but that the Town was still losing money.
Ms. Del Monaco gave a brief rundown of the annual fees charged by New Fairfield as well as some surrounding towns. Currently, she said, New Fairfield charges $10 a year. Bethel is free, Newtown charges $100, and New Milford and Ridgefield each charge $20.
Selectman Kim Hanson suggested raising the annual fee to $16 or $17 per year and making another increase the following year if the DOC was still losing money.
Selectman Khris Hall stated that about 1,000 people use the DOC this year, which was up from the roughly 900 that used it the year before this was due, she said, to the longer operating hours instituted this year which has encouraged more people to make use of the center. Based on that, she said she felt Mr. Hanson’s suggested increase should cover the shortfall, although numbers do vary from year to year.
Mr. Hanson also said that senior citizens should continue to receive the 50% discount on the annual fee as the currently do. This was supported by both Ms. Hall and Ms. Del Monaco.
The Board voted unanimously to raise the annual drop off fee from $10 to $16 with a 50% discount for senior citizens.
The Board also discussed the rent increase notice it received from the Town of New Milford for the Housatonic Probate Court. The Probate Court, which serves the towns of New Fairfield, New Milford, Sherman, Bridgewater, and Brookfield is based in New Milford, and each town contributes toward the rent. New Milford is doubling the amount of rent charged. In this scenario, New Fairfield’s portion would jump from $2,412 to $4,824.
Mr. Hanson felt that either New Milford or the Probate Court should provide some comparables for the office space. He noted that he had no idea of the size of the office, etc. Ms. Hall noted the size of the increase and the timing was suspect in that it comes right at the end of everyone’s budget cycle.
Ms. Del Monaco said that the other towns are all protesting the increase, and the Board was unanimous in its opinion that New Fairfield should protest the increase as well.
By Greg Slomba