Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Attendance:  Board of Finance members:  Chairman John Grabowski, John Ford IV, Sharon Huxley, Katie Erickson, Betsy Thornquist, Sally Huyser

There were 225 people in attendance.

The Annual Budget Hearing was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Chairman Grabowski.  The Budget Hearing was held in the Bethany Town Hall Gym.

Bruce Loomis was the first speaker of the evening with remarks regarding today being Earth Day and saving the environment.  Bruce thanked the Town of Bethany, especially the Recycling Center for helping make the plastic bag collection such a success for the Bethany Elementary School.  The school collected 2,734 pounds of recycled plastic bags.  A prize was given to the Bethany Elementary School from Trex for their successful campaign.

Chairman Grabowski gave a power point presentation regarding the budget for fiscal year 2019-20.  He explained how the surpluses over the past few years from Amity, returned to the towns, has helped to increase the total of the General Fund to 20.4% of budget.  Another factor affecting the General Fund balance was that last year the Town was uncertain about the Governor’s budget, and how it would affect the Town financially, so the budget was prepared accordingly.   Chairman Grabowski explained the proposed budget of $24,005,828 for expenditures and $23,772,531 for Revenues and how using some of the Fund Balance could lower the mill rate for fiscal year 2019-20 by up to one mill.  A detailed hard copy of the budget and capital requests was available for those present to cover details that were not covered in the presentation. 

The roads scheduled for repair of the Town Roads  is as  follows:

Bear Hill Road, mill and pave, Bethmour Road, reclaim and pave, Brinton Road, reclaim and pave, Brooks Road reclaim and pave, Doolittle Drive, reclaim and pave, Downs Road, reclaim and pave, Edwards Road, reclaim and pave, Fairwood Road, reclaim and pave, Falls Road, reclaim and pave, Glenwood Ct, reclaim and pave, Green Hill Road, reclaim and pave, Hatfield Hill Road, reclaim and pave, Hinman Road, reclaim and pave, Lebanon Road, reclaim and pave, Litchfield Turnpike, reclaim and pave, Mountain View Road, reclaim and pave, Northrop Road, reclaim and pave, Old amity Road, reclaim and pave, Ridgewood Road, reclaim and pave, Sperry Road, reclaim and pave for a total of $7,859,891.

Barry Bernabi, Bond Counsel for the Town was called on to speak to the Hearing regarding bonding for this road repair.   The Town is in a very good position to float a bond since our previous bond is near retirement.  The Town has an AA2 credit rating.  This good rating is due to the high Fund Balance that the Town has maintained.   The interest rates are low at this time.  

John Garcia – Fairwood                  Road     If the bonds are to be paid over a 15 year period the roads will be worn out before the bonds are paid. 
Alan Green – Road Foreman - If done right the roads will last 30 years with reclaim and paving process.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Jamie Stirling – What is the total cost over a fifteen year span with the interest and principal, and what are the payments.  Will this get us on target so that the Major Road account will maintain the roads from then on?

Bart Piccarelli – Bachelor Oak Road – will there be another phase or more bonding to finish other roads?

Rod White – Building Maintenance Town of Bethany – Rod spoke about the repairs needed to bring the Annex up to useable condition.  The total cost is approximately $235,000 which would include plumbing repair, carpet cleaning or replacement, removal of PCB’s and miscellaneous other repairs.  This building could then be used by Park and Recreation for their activities.

There were no comments from the audience either for or against this renovation.

Chris Pittenger – Bethany Farms Road – Will this project be up for approval at the Annual Town Meeting?

John Grabowski – Since there seems to be no opposition it probably will be. 

Ronald and Kathy Bouffard – Bear Hill Road – When will Bear Hill be repaved?  “ I have to drive on only half of the road it is so bad.”

Alan Green – Probably not for a year.  It is not any worse than other roads.

Chairman Grabowski – The Board of Finance has worked hard to try to keep everything in balance during the budget development, being responsible for all issues.  “I know   that the road projects will take from three to five years, as there is a lot of area to cover.

First Selectwoman Gorski spoke about the statistics on how the State will provide grant money in the future, however a percentage of what we have been receiving in the past will be eliminated or reduced, especially for education grants.

Chris Pittenger – Bethany Farms Road – Chris is Chairman of the Board of Education and he spoke about Elementary School enrollment.  There are presently 346 students at the Elementary School.  This is the lowest enrollment since 1985, however there seems to be an increase for next year.  If the increase continues, another teacher will have to be hired. 

Eric Frieden – Eric ask for a list of Highway equipment to be replaced and an approximate schedule for replacement.

Chief Richard Cogil and Brent Ciccarelli both spoke about the rescue/pumper truck requested as a Capital Expenditure next fiscal year.

Steven  Thornquist – Oak Ridge Drive –why and how does it work to combine two trucks in one?

Brent Ciccarelli explained that it makes the piece of equipment one unit where in the past two vehicles were needed to do the same job.  The total cost including interest would be about $1,100,000. 

Jamie Stirling – Miller Road – Jamie thanked the Board of Finance for the work they had done in preparing this budget.

Sharon HJuxley – Board of Finance member asked how many want to maintain the present mill rate?

Sally Huyser – Board of Finance member asked the Chairman to call for a show of hands for those wanting a mill decrease.  About twenty people raised their hands.  The Chairman asked for a show of hands to keep the mill rate as it is.  There were approximately 150 hands to maintain the same mill rate.

Chairman Grabowski said we can’t count on a surplus this year from Amity as they have projects planned.  A half mill reduction would make the difference of $250,000 in the budget.   . 

Ruth Beardsley – Litchfield Turnpike asked what impact would half a mill have to each household.  That question was not answered.

Betsy Thornquist – Board of Finance member - we have tried to be responsible in this budget planning.

Robert Brinton Jr. – Robert thought we should lower the General Fund to 12% and not bond.  Why do we need to keep so much in the bank?  We should spend it on roads.

Chairman Grabowski adjourned the Budget Hearing at 8:20 p.m.


                                                                                                Respectfully submitted


                                                                                                June G. Riley 

                                                                                                Clerk, Board of Finance