At the Wednesday, May 17 Board of Finance (BOF) meeting, there was a lengthy back-and-forth among members regarding Town salaries. Board member Ms. Cheryl Reedy suggested possible salary increases for some positions to bring them more in line with nearby towns. There was an agreement to continue talking about salaries at a future meeting, though it was suggested that merit bonuses may be a way to compensate individuals rather than salary bumps.
Board members questioned the wisdom of comparing towns such as New Milford, Bethel, or Brookfield to New Fairfield, given the large differences between the towns, such as the number of businesses. It was acknowledged that it is difficult to find exact comparisons in CT towns. Some also questioned whether it makes sense to adjust the salaries in the near future, given the tight budget.
BOF members discussed and approved the suspense list for many outstanding taxes in Town—many new residents were added to the list who owe back taxes, others have been on the list for multiple years. It was noted that some people on the list have moved away from New Fairfield, others still on the list are deceased.
BOF members agreed to renew the Town’s current auditors’ contract. In the future they may look elsewhere but, given the fluctuations in the insurance market staffing and delays, they believe it makes sense to continue on as is.
The BOF absorbed the news that employee health insurance usage has not diminished, in fact it has increased; after large increases during winter months, they had hoped the opposite would be true.
There was a discussion about whether public commenters should identify their name to be able to speak. While some members are in favor of making that a mandatory rule, the majority voted for the policy to stay more open, with a broad interpretation of the phrasing to make a “good faith effort” to identify themselves. First Selectman Ms. Pat Del Monaco said the Town’s attorney interprets the “good faith” reference to pertain to back and forth comments. Reedy spoke in favor of residents stating their names, pointing out that there are many ways for people who are too timid to say their names to communicate with the BOF, such as email or letters. Others argued that instances of unidentified commenters only occurred a few times among hundreds of comments and a change in the policy isn’t warranted. Later in the meeting, a member asked if rules could be placed on the length of public comment in total; this will be a topic for future discussion.
The next regular New Fairfield Board of Finance meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 14, 7:30 p.m.