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At its January 10 regular meeting, the Board of Selectmen set a date for a town meeting to vote on a proposed institution of an economic development commission. It also discussed and voted on its 2019-2020 budget.

First Selectman Pat Del Monaco made a motion to set a meeting date of Thursday, January 24 at 7:00 pm to vote on the adoption of an ordinance to establish an economic development commission. The commission’s purpose would be to promote and develop the economic resources of the town.

Discussion of the motion followed. Selectman Kim Hanson voiced his opposition to the proposed ordinance, as he has in the past. He stated that he felt such a commission would be an unnecessary layer of government with no distinct measurable benchmarks that would wind up being a large expense to the town.

Selectman Khris Hall disagreed, saying that most towns in the area have a commission of this nature. As to benchmarks, she stated that she did not know if it was possible to develop definitive measurements.

Ms. Del Monaco stated that something has to be done and that she did not see a “downside” to an economic development commission that would go out and actively recruit businesses and promote the town. She noted that 140 of the 169 towns in Connecticut have a commission, which puts New Fairfield at a disadvantage.

Mr. Hanson reiterated his feeling that the town did not need a commission and that costs related to it could increase several years down the road.

The Board took a vote and approved the motion for the town meeting 2 to 1, with Mr. Hanson voting against.

The BOS also discussed its 2019-2020 board budget. This is the budget that the BOS needs to operate, not the larger municipal budget that will be presented to the Board of Finance in the coming months.

In presenting the $178,830 budget, Ms. Del Monaco noted that the two salary lines reflected a 2.50% cost of living increase. Salaries for elected officials is proposed at $107,710, and office salaries at $48,120. also included in the budget were $4,000 for a grants administrator, $14,000 for cable broadcasting expenses, $1,500 for exam land records, and $3,500 for materials and supplies.

In discussing the proposed budget, Mr. Hanson felt that there should be no increase in salaries. Ms. Hall felt that an increase was acceptable to cover cost of living increases. It was also pointed out that such an increase matched what the town’s union contracted employees would receive as part of their agreement.

A vote was taken, and the proposed budget was approved 2 to 1 with Mr. Hanson opposed.

Ms. Del Monaco gave an update on the proposed dock replacement at the town marina. She said that the engineer’s report had come back and that it appears that some of the existing docks may have a few more years of life left in them. She stated that Parks & Rec and Public Works have some questions for the engineer regarding the report. According to the report, replacement could be done over 6 to 8 years, but that the cost of replacing and reconfiguring cement anchors and lines would be more expensive–perhaps as much as $1.6 million rather than the $1 million that was expected.

Mr. Hanson asked if the roughly $50,000 from the annual dock fees that Park & Rec had agreed to put in a special lock box fund would be enough to cover the increased cost.

Ms. Del Monaco responded that since the time frame for replacement would be longer, the current agreement should still be enough, pending the engineer’s answers to their questions.

The Board also approved a donation of six all-in-one computers worth $4,199.94 to the Senior Center. The donation was made by the Friends of the Senior Center.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Thursday, January 24 at 7:30pm.

By Greg Slomba