Board Of Selectmen Discusses American Rescue Plan Cash

With a string of heavy spending and $ 7.6 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds pending disbursement, the Board of Selectmen initiated a discussion on the possible use of the money on 4 selection meetings on Sept. 20.

Treasury director Robert Tait said the ARP paid out $ 1.56 billion to counties and cities and $ 3.93 billion to residents across the country. Of the $ 7.6 million in money, the city received half or $ 3.8 million this year and the other half will be available next year.

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said that while the city is not required to provide formal funding for the issuance of ARP funds, he felt it would be better to follow the charter process in allocating the funds. Rosenthal thought it would create a paper trail in case the federal government questions how Newtown used the funds and show taxpayers how those funds were used.

“I think we should do this for the sake of transparency,” said Rosenthal. “That’s the most sensible thing, so everything is recorded. That’s the best way. “

Rosenthal felt that one of the better uses for the funding was the Hawley HVAC project, which along with expected ties will be funded in part by a school board surplus. Using the grant for something that would otherwise bind the city would save the city money in interest. Rosenthal said it was important for voters to know how much of the project would be paid for using the grant if asked for project approval in November.

“Using this will save us on retention costs – it’s a smart financial decision,” said Selectman Jeff Capeci.

If voters don’t approve of the Hawley Project, ARP funds can be used elsewhere. Rosenthal said it was “important to get the ball rolling” on how much to spend on the Hawley Project so it can go through the Finance Committee and Legislative Council in time to vote on November 2nd election day Voters to come.

The city has until December 21, 2024 to allocate funds from the payout and spend an additional year thereafter. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, ARP funds from the city can be used to:

* Support public health spending by funding things like COVID-19 containment, medical spending, behavioral health care, and certain public health and safety workers.

* Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic damage to workers, households, small businesses, affected industries and the public sector.

* Replace lost public sector revenue by using these funds to provide government services to the extent that revenue has declined due to the pandemic.

* Provision of bonus payments for key workers and additional support for those who have and will bear the greatest health risks as a result of their service in critical infrastructure sectors.

* Invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure and make the necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital sewage and rainwater infrastructure and expand access to broadband internet.

“Within these overall categories, beneficiaries have great flexibility in deciding how best to use these funds to meet the needs of their communities,” the Treasury Department said on the website.

Rosenthal noted that the ARP requires that anything that funds are used for is not a “recurring item” – for example, a new position with a salary would not be an approved use of the money. All recurring items would have to be financed from the normal operating budget of the city in the coming years. In addition, ARP funding cannot be applied directly to budget as revenue to directly lower the milling rate.

Some other things the city could use the money on alongside the Hawley project are new WiFi routers in the community center and community center that select people said were working poorly; a new roof for the community center; and vehicle cameras for the police.

Rosenthal said all police cruisers have cameras, but the current ones are “starting to fail”.

“If we do some of these things with ARP funds, the operating budget is relieved,” said Rosenthal.

Other ideas included a terrace in the Community Center, a campus bike park in Fairfield Hills and a renovation of the Dickinson Park Pavilion for the Parks & Recreation Department.

“Those are a few ideas, there are sure to be more”, says Rosenthal.

The possibility of providing some form of grants to companies harmed by COVID-19 was also mentioned, but Rosenthal said this was a “management challenge”.

“What money do we give a company?” Asked Rosenthal. “How do we do this to maintain confidentiality, how do we not miss any people? I think it’s noble, but how do you do it in a fair way? “

Because of this, Rosenthal said he believed it was “better to do things that take the sting out of the mill rate”.

“When mill prices rise, companies and residents alike feel the sting,” says Rosenthal.

Rosenthal said it was best to use the ARP funds on items that will definitely end up in the operating budget, such as the police cameras, rather than on “wishlist items.”

“If the [federal] The government is shooting something, I don’t want to say: ‘Well, shoot, we wouldn’t have done that without the extra money,’ ”said Rosenthal.

Capeci said he wanted to “weigh the compromises,” and Rosenthal said he would continue to discuss the funds with Tait to “examine different scenarios and what the tie-up costs would look like”.

Reporter Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

York selectmen rethink seawall prices, nonetheless ready for FEMA cash

YORK, Maine – Although the Long Sands Beach seawall was struck during last week’s storm, city administrator Steve Burns said the new barrier is holding up well.

“You could really see the difference,” said Burns, describing how the storm surge hit the new build with little or no negative impact.

That was the good news.

The way the repair project is paid for continues to be a cause for concern.

Triggered by massive storms in 2017 and 2018, repairs to the seawall are expected to cost several million dollars. As previously reported, Public Works Director Dean Lessard had anticipated that most of the cost would be reimbursed through state and federal funds. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has not yet approved any payments.

These questions came to a head at the Board of Directors meeting on January 25, when Board members asked if the cost of the work carried out exceeded the budget approved by the voters, given that FEMA had no financial commitment. Board member Mike Estes requested a full account and the matter was carried over to the February 8 meeting.

In putting the FEMA accounts on the agenda for further discussion, the board took into account the worst-case scenarios provided by Burns, Lessard, and City Treasurer Wendy Anderson: “I want to find out how much liability there is when FEMA nothing reimbursed at all from the accounts receivable and how much money has been spent so far, ”Burns wrote in an email dated February 5 to Anderson and Lessard.

This potential worst-case scenario gap is nearly $ 2 million in the FEMA Refundable Account. “We should ask voters to approve the use of the credit to cover that amount in the event of a reduced or zero FEMA reimbursement,” Burns wrote in his February 5 report for Board Review and Discussion.

Currently, the city has approval for up to $ 2 million in bond funding for the project, of which approximately $ 1.2 million has been billed to date, Burns wrote, adding that the city needs to be sure not to exceed this current limit of US $ 2 million.

More:The state fined York $ 75,000 for illegal dam work

The chosen ones discussed the possibility of adding an arrest warrant article to the ballot, asking voters to approve up to $ 2 million from the city’s fund to cover any costs the city will incur in the event FEMA fails to provide reimbursement. They are also considering the possibility of asking the Budget Committee to postpone the elements of the FY22 dam project for one year.

The board asked the public works department, finance director and city administrator to obtain an opinion from a bond attorney and report to the board by the next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, February 17th.

“When we get back, we need to have the numbers,” said CEO Todd Frederick.

In response to these concerns, board member Kinley Gregg requested that all work on the seawall be halted from March 1st. However, she later withdrew her application after a brief discussion.

“I don’t want to quit (work) and have safety issues until summer,” said Vice President Robert Palmer Jr.

Board members suggested reconsidering the possibility of discontinuing work after the next meeting if they awaited further information from Public Works.

Budget discussion postponed

The elect had planned to discuss parts of the budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 during the meeting on Monday evening, but this notice was incorrectly issued. The elect plan to revisit the budget discussion on Feb.17, Burns said.

Separately, the Budgets Committee will hold its first public hearing on the budget proposal for fiscal year 22 on February 16, Burns said in an email.

City Hall project manager

The board considered a recommendation to hire a project manager for the Town Hall Building project with a salary of $ 80,000.

Palmer said he wanted to make sure the city is spending enough money to do this job. “It’s too important a project,” he said.

Estes expressed concern that there is currently no need to hire a project manager for this salary.

“I would like to hear from the building committee how much has to be spent. If this committee says $ 80,000, so be it, ”said Estes.

A vote on the matter was postponed until later in February after feedback from the building committee.

Approvals approved for recurring events

With a touch of optimism for the coming year, the board approved a series of post-COVID-city events, starting with the York Parks and Recreation Department’s Spring Surprises slated for March 7th.

The full list of approved events includes the Big A 50k (May 21), the York Little League Opening Day Parade (May 1), and Memorial Day Parade (May 31).

Board approval stipulates that all COVID guidelines must be followed as they may be at the time of the event.

Clarification of the appeal process

Burns told the board that he had prepared a “script” to guide anyone affected by a land use decision in the city. This should clarify the process and assist citizens and staff alike and will be posted on the city’s website this week.

Temporary traffic light must be visited again

Palmer did not provide any information on the progress of the York Beach Connector Road opening and asked for a written report on the status of the temporary traffic lights on Route 1 and Short Sands Road to be presented at the next meeting.

New Canaan selectmen say faculty begin time modifications ‘not about cash,’ superintendent weighs in

An email from a mother received during a meeting of the Board of Selectmen about later start times prompted the Selectmen to comment on the one in the Board of Education budget of $ 95 million.

The school budget includes $ 463,337 spending to allow New Canaan High School students to have late mid-year start times. However, following a three-tier bus schedule would force the district’s younger students to get on their buses earlier.

Under the proposed schedule, the three elementary schools would start at 7:45 a.m., New Canaan High School at 8:30 a.m., the upper seventh and eighth grades of Saxe Middle School at 8:35 a.m., and Saxe lower division at 8:35 a.m. Fifth and sixth graders heard the first bell at 9:15 a.m.

New Canaan’s East Elementary and West Elementary Schools currently start at 9:05 am, while South Elementary School starts at 8:15 am

The school budget is $ 378,668 for seven buses, so three elementary schools can be bused at the same time.

In the Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday, January 28thKevin Moynihan, First Selectman, said, “Maybe the solution is more buses to accommodate everyone.”

This proposal would require more fines and therefore higher costs.

At that meeting, the chosen ones unanimously agreed to their budget recommendation, which includes City Department operating expenses of $ 29.25 million, an increase of 2.39% over the 2020-21 budget moved on to the Board of Education’s operations budget, which was set at $ 95.42 millionThis corresponds to an increase of 3.25% compared to the last budget.

Calling the Later Start Times Initiative the “most controversial issue in the city of the decade,” Moynihan said, “It’s not really about money. (The Board of Education) has to decide what is best for the children. “

“It’s not that we don’t care,” he continued. “We don’t vote on the starting times for school.”

“Exactly. I don’t think it’s a money problem,” said Selectman Nick Williams.

Superintendent Bryan Luizzi later spoke to Hearst Connecticut Media about Moynihan’s proposal.

“We’d probably have to triple our bus capacity as we currently have three levels and you’re talking about transporting all of the students at the same time,” he said. “That would triple our transport budget.”

During the elect’s meeting, Administrator Tucker Murphy notified the elect that an email had been received regarding a change in school start times. They didn’t ask her to read it, but it sparked discussion.

Brooke Santulli, the author of the first correspondence, has children attending West Elementary School and has been vehemently against the proposed change in school starting times.

She doesn’t want her children to wait in the dark for buses, she said. “They barely get enough sleep the way they are, and waking up earlier is completely unreasonable and against the science that they should get 10 to 12 hours a night. Which child goes to bed at 6 p.m.? “, Wrote Santulli.

Santulli said she understood why it was positive for students to sleep later. “It is terrible that positive change for them would come at the expense of our elementary school children. What a terrible decision. Please do not approve the change to the school start times. “

Selectman Kathleen Corbet noticed the frustration of parents like Santulli and announced that the board of directors is receiving numerous letters on the matter. “I know it’s very emotional,” she said.

“I respect the fact that parents of younger children have real concerns that they ignore. That’s why we have an education authority, ”said Moynihan.

Selectman Nick Williams said he saw both sides of the argument. He also noted that this is an issue that has “been on his radar for a long time”. Corbert agreed.

“It was a problem when my children were in school and I appreciate what the elected education committee has been through in terms of evaluating back-to-school times,” said Corbet.

Luizzi raised concerns about transporting the students on a bus stop. “The need to order so many buses and hire so many drivers is a significant hurdle to such an approach, as is Saxe Middle School which currently can only accommodate 50% of the school on arrival and discharge due to facility limitations . “

At the meetings of the Education Committee, Luizzi also raised concerns about a shortage of bus drivers.

“In addition, many buses on the roads would have a devastating impact on traffic at the same time, particularly at the Farm Road and South Avenue intersection and on the nearby streets,” said Luizzi.

Another option the Board of Education was considering In April 2020, New Canaan High School and the district’s three elementary schools are scheduled to share one level, while Saxe Middle School is on top of another. It would require more fines and was valued at $ 1.2 to $ 1.4 million.

The elect generally only discuss the school capital budget and not the operating budget as it is not under their authority, Moynihan said.

The first chosen will be able to vote on it later as they cut ties with the 12-person city council. “This is a separate responsibility based on the activities of the finance committee and the city council,” Moynihan said.

The selectmen’s budget will be forwarded to the CFO for review this month. His recommendation will then be forwarded to the city council by March 4th. The city council can approve, cut or reject the budget of the finance committee at a meeting scheduled for March 31st.