At a special virtual Board of Selectmen meeting on April 13, the Board discussed adoption of tax relief options as outlined by Governor Lamont’s executive order, and the proposed purchase of the 78 Gillotti Road property.
First Selectman Pat Del Monaco outlined one of the most recent of the Governor’s Executive Orders, which stipulates that towns provide at least one of two property tax relief options for residents and businesses. She noted that towns will have to offer either a property tax deferment or a low interest rate program by April 25. In order to qualify, taxpayers must show that they have lost at least 20% of their income. Businesses need to show a 30% revenue decrease from March to June over the same period a year ago.
Ms. Del Monaco outlined both options for the Board. The property tax deferment, she said, allows for the deferment of tax payments for 90 days for property, personal property and vehicle tax. So, instead of having to pay taxes due July 1 by August 1, taxpayers who opted for the deferral would not have to pay until October 1. Applications for the program must be submitted no later July 1.
The low interest program would provide a lower interest rate on delinquent tax payments of 0.25% from April 1 to July 1 at which time the rate would revert to the normal 1.5% interest rate. This would assist someone who was currently delinquent on their taxes.
After further discussion, the Board voted unanimously to adopt both options.
The Board then discussed a request from the Senior Center to pay contractors that provide programs for seniors such as aerobics, fitness and art. The request for $850 was for classes missed in month of March. They also voted to continue paying for contractors that continue to provide their programs to seniors online, The Board unanimously approved the amount and continuing payment until the end of the current fiscal year on June 30.
Next, Director of School Budget & Operations Dr. Richard Sanzo presented information regarding the potential purchase of the 78 Gillotti Road property. He reviewed the three possible options the Permanent Building Committee is currently considering. One of the options, which requires the purchase and incorporation of the 78 Gillotti Road property, he felt offered the best option. The initial layout, Dr. Sanzo said, does not incorporate the property and would require the relocation of three existing wells, rebuilding of two practice fields and regrading of slopes and the existing access road, as well as a wetlands issue. The total cost to make those improvements would be $2.2 million. This option and the associated costs had been accounted for in the original project budget, he said.
The option that requires the $325,000 purchase of the Gillotti Road property, he noted, would free up those $2.2 million in funds to be used in other areas of the project such as better landscaping and/or parking, or a better building layout.
Dr. Sanzo said the PBC also voted to reduce the project budget by $452,772, which would yield a net debt service savings (after the State’s contribution to the project) of $325,000. The PBC also voted to take an additional $547,228 and move it into the project contingency budget. Those two actions, he said, would effectively take $1 million out of the construction budget and eliminates the $2.2 million needed for site improvements in the original plan.
Ms. Del Monaco then referenced the Governor’s executive order that she said gives the Boards of Selectmen and Finance the ability to approve an appropriation without a town meeting for “critical and time sensitive municipal fiscal deadlines”.
She proposed tabling a vote until a Monday, April 20 joint meeting with the Board of Finance, where each board could vote on the matter. It would also give some time to gather public comment on the issue and allow for additional public comment at the meeting. The Board voted unanimously to table the matter until the April 20 meeting.
Ms. Del Monaco gave a Coronavirus update, saying that the governor was issuing executive orders almost every day. One of the orders deals with short term rentals of 30 days or less. The order bans all short-term rentals except for essential lodging to first responders, health care employees, etc. The question she said was how the Town enforces the order.
Selectman Khris Hall suggested reaching out to landlords who have registered as a requirement of the Town’s new short-term rental ordinance. She also said that it would also come down to neighbor complaints. She also stated that it should be stressed to the Town’s local police to enforce the order when a violation is brought to their attention.
Ms. Hall also stressed the need to wear a mask when out in public. This, she said, is not only to keep yourself from getting sick, but also to keep those you encounter from getting sick.
Ms. Del Monaco stated that the Town’s Department of Social Services and the New Fairfield Congregational Church Food Bank will be accepting food donations every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11:00am to 2:00pm in the Congregational Church parking lot.
By Greg Slomba