SPECIAL TOWN MEETING
JUNE 16, 2014
The meeting was called to order at 7:10 p.m. First Selectwoman Derrylyn Gorski began the meeting by having everyone stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. There were approximately 55 in attendance. First Selectwoman Gorski called for nominations from the floor for a Moderator. A motion to nominate Steven Thornquist was made by Barrie Collins, duly seconded by Mary Shurtleff. There were no other nominations.
Item (1) on call – RESOLVED: that the report and revised recommendations of the Board of Finance upon the budget for fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014 amounting to $22,346,004 will be adjourned to a referendum vote to be held on June 23, 2014.
Moderator Thornquist read Resolution (1) on the call and stated that the meeting will be adjourned to a referendum vote on June 23, 2014. There can be discussion but no changes can be made. He then introduced the Board of Finance Chairman, John Grabowski. The Chairman discussed the changes to the budget. A summary of the changes is attached to the minutes. Total budget revisions amount to $666,435.
Aileen Magda, Selectwoman – 28
La - LOCIP went up quite a
bit. First Selectwoman Gorski stated that if not applied for in year allotted
to us then it can be applied for the following year.
Rd - why a change in building permits?
Grabowski stated that additional revenue came in after budget and
because of changes going forward.
Fran Doba, Ass’t Tax Collector –
980 Amity Rd - explain LOCIP. Every town by population gets an allotted
amount each year and we try to spend it in the year it is alloted but we don’t
have to. Rather than apply for it this past
fiscal year we held off and will apply for it this coming year.
Randy Raddatz, 22 Bethridge Rd – then effectively the reduction of resurfacing is going to be offset by LOCIP? Will the $94,000 in LOCIP go into roads and essentially there will be $500,000 still in roads? First Selectwoman Gorski – no it will go into the $400,000 that we are spending.
Alan Towbin, 77 Oak Ridge Rd -What will happen to roads that are not getting resurfaced? Grabowski -Highway Foreman will do what he can with the budgeted amount and chip seal to be as effective as he can be.
Grabowski stated that the mil rate from the original budget has been reduced by 9/10ths of a percent.
Barrie Collins, 339 Brooks Rd – removing money from Land Acquisition was very unwise.
only has so much available land. We need
to be proactive. An instance is Bethany
Farms – all those roads must be maintained.
Grabowski stated that the Town would definitely take it into
account. As a Board we have to make
tough decisions. That’s not to say that
more cannot be put into the fund going forward.
This is a tough year. We will
have significant savings at Amity with the reduction in students in the coming
7 Carrington Rd – I endorse what is saying but know that the numbers
cannot change this year. The Moderator
stated that the Board will take these concerns into account. Barrie
Russ von Beren, 134 Wooding Hill Rd – You have $500,000 in Land Acquisition, and approximately $1,200,000 in the General Fund. Some of the General Fund can be used for Land Acquisition. I don’t recall when the reserve has ever been used.
Steuart Morgenstern, 17 Old Fairwood Rd – thanked the Board for making the cuts even though it was not easy. What will we do next year with another big increase at Amity? I feel we should have a referendum every year. If not a referendum, then a cap on increases every year – 1 or 2% so that the referendum is not voted down. Thirdly, let’s not spend the money that we will save at Amity in the future – could have a reduction in taxes and give something back to the taxpayer. BCS seems very top heavy – could do with a lot less administrators. I would vote to go to referendum each year.
Shawn Uscilla – BVFD - 20 Tawney Dr – Where in the Statute does it say the Bd. of Ed. budget cannot be cut? The town requires a minimum of $12,800 per student. What is the reduction to the Board of Ed. budget? The amount budgeted currently puts it at almost $16,000 per student this year. We talk about Land Acquisition but don’t supply basic infrastructure to the town for the highway and fire departments. Garcia – I’m not prepared to comment but the numbers are somewhat erroneous. Come to a meeting and we will answer your questions the way they should be answered. Grabowski – Bd. needs to work with the numbers they are given. Thornquist - comments can be made but it is up to the Bd. of Ed. It is an independently run board. I understand your concerns but they should be brought to the Bd. of Ed. for comment.
Sally Huyser – Bd. of Finance member - 123 Northrop Rd - when the board met, we didn’t know why the budget failed – was it BCS, was it the highway department?
Chip Spear – Bd. of Finance member - 38 Johnson Rd – we as a board cannot alter the Bd. of Ed budget. We have reduced it to the amount we are reasonably capable of doing. If it needs to be changed it must be changed by the Board. There is nothing that can be done now. Any changes would have to be for next year.
Bruce Loomis –Conservation Chrm - 11 Sabrina Dr - I thank the Bd. of Finance for its hard work.. Any time a referendum is held it should be done with an exit poll. My opinion is that those who voted it down are not well versed on the process. They don’t attend the meeting. We can’t impact the Bd. of Ed. budget. If we remove the schools the amount for the town is $5,000,000 or so. The town operates on a shoe string budget.
Liz Smith, 355 Downs Rd – Why was the Community garden cut from budget? Grabowski – it could be looked at in the future. The town would be supporting a handful of individuals. This is a tough budget year and it could not be done.
Magda – We have administrators leaving the Community School. How much could we cut back on salaries going forward? Can the positions be eliminated? Grabowski - $30,000 is the most we can cut back. It’s based on the number of students. Huyser - Once the budget is passed the money stays in their budget. Their budget could be reduced but the money can still be spent within the school.
Doba – when people vote at referendum, they have minimal information; they see the bottom line without knowing the details. An exit poll is not scientific; everyone is not polled. Grabowsi – whether to have a referendum or not should be taken up at a Selectmen’s meeting.
Von Beren – We need a system so that people can hear everyone who is speaking. I advocate a referendum. I think the Board did an excellent job in reducing the budget.
John Paul Garcia – Bd. of Ed. Member - 190 Fairwood Rd – should go to referendum to get more people to vote. Things have changed in the last 30 years. People don’t come to the meetings but it’s a disservice to say the people who are voting are uninformed.
Magda – Cost of first referendum - $2,943.25. Cost of second, 2,209.25 for a total cost of $5152.50 (approximate).
Matthew Kichar, 638 Bethmour – thanked the board. We should be entitled to the breakdown in the Bd. of Ed budget, salaries, etc. Also agree to an exit poll. Thank you for helping the seniors, as well.
Pua Ford – Registrar of Voters - 8 Valley Road – there were 276 voters for Amity referendum. It’s always the first week of May! There should be more residents out to vote.
Dave Forman – Tax Collector - 329 Downs Rd – mixed feelings on referendum every year. Town meeting is emblematic of a tradition going back (town government of and by the people). I would like to see more people participate. I would also like to see more people voting to understand what they are voting on. I saw how frustrated the Board was with reducing the budget and not knowing what was really being voted down. I would like to see the Town Meetings continue as our legislative body.
Fairwood Rd - We should ask the townspeople which way they would like to do it.
Rd – I taught for many years. Before the final budget the Bd. of Finance
always gave the Bd. of Ed. an ultimatum. No more than 1% increase or 2%
decrease in numbers. I’ve noticed that
the number of people who come to the A.T.M. is in inverse proportion to newcomers
to town. People do not realize the power we have in government by participating
in the town meetings. We lose our
government when we don’t participate.
Kathleen Schurman, 755 Litchfield Tpke – we have no news coverage in this town so how can we spread the news to come out and vote?
Raddatz - what we could do (Bd. of Ed) is give back the $120,000 if an administrator is leaving, if an annex is closing. My father was very disappointed that he could not come to the meetings to vote because he was physically not able to – therefore he could not vote. I am thankful there was a referendum so I could vote (by absentee) when I was unable to come in person.
Mary Shurtleff, 34 Virginia Rail Dr – suggested investing in technology - website, emails and automated phone calls as ways to get information to the townspeople. I would also like to echo the concerns of those who are in favor of Land Acquisition.
Magda – I agree with technology as a means to get the word out. The town meeting will always be here. The budget was printed in the last Bethany Bulletin. There should be no excuse for people not knowing. At the A.T.M. there were so many typographical errors. Also, what the Moderator reads should be the same as what is given at the meeting.
Eric McDonald, 151 Bethmour Rd - Want people involved but don’t appreciate outcome of referendum. Want to keep the Town rural but pushed for Green Haven; complain about Amity budget but we will be paying for those moving in (Green Haven).
Garcia made a motion to adjourn the meeting to referendum. Unanimous approval.
There were no further comments. The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.
Nancy A. McCarthy, CMC