Welcome to my first newsletter. I will be posting this bi-weekly on the Town website, Facebook and sending as an e-blast. As your First Selectman, I feel it is important to begin communicating directly about Town and community operations to citizens to keep them informed of local news and events. My goal is to enhance communication with the public, and I hope all citizens will find the information valuable.
The Board of Finance has approved the 2021-2022 Municipal Budget scheduled for referendum May 5th, 2021. The budget represents a 3.76% decrease in municipal spending and does not defer any capital projects or decrease any departmental budgets. The mill rate will not increase, remaining at 29.3% for fiscal year 2021-2022. I am grateful that my administration has been able to release a negative budget two years in a row and believe that this budget takes into account and balances the priorities of our community in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. I hope residents will take the time to review the budget and come out to vote on May 5th. Click to view referendum information.
At the April 22nd Special Board of Selectmen meeting, we voted unanimously to purchase the 40+ acres at 864 South Britain Road to be designated as permanent open space for $239,900. This acquisition will connect Platt Park to Heritage Crest down to route 172 and preserve the area from development. Open space is a big component of Southbury's character and aligns closely with our Plan of Conservation and Development and is important to my administration. The money for this purchase was appropriated in the current year's budget and will have no effect on taxes. A Special Town Meeting will be held on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. in Room 205 of Town Hall to vote on purchasing this property.
COMMUNITY RELATIONS TASK FORCE
In other good news, the Board of Selectmen voted to form a Community Relations Task Force at their April 1st meeting. The mission statement for the task force is as follows:
"The Community Relations Task Force promotes acceptance of all members of the Southbury community and focuses on advancing understanding of the diverse and multicultural makeup of its citizens. The Task Force collaborates with existing organizations such as the Region 15 School District and local religious institutions to advise the Board of Selectmen on ways to improve equity, equality and inclusion in all sectors of the community.
The Task Force consists of an advisor from the Region 15 School District, a Southbury high school student, a member of the clergy, a community representative and a Selectman from each political party."
This task force is important to open up the conversation about race and discuss any issues that might be occurring in our community. I believe in the importance of understanding and improving our relations with each other. I am working closely with Selectman Mike Rosen to organize the task force, and there will be more details announced at the May 6th Board of Selectmen meeting.
Blum Shapiro conducted an internal audit this month of the Fiscal, Tax and Assessor Offices. The audit resulted in no significant findings and all transactions were processed following Town procedures. I would like to thank the staff for maintaining the high quality of work that is essential for effective and efficient Town operations.
At the April 1st Board of Selectmen meeting, we voted to join Sustainable CT and named the Economic Development Director as Southbury's contact person for the Municipal Certification process. I would like to thank Chuck Litty and Tom Connor of the Energy Task Force for starting this initiative. Click to view the resolution.
The Senior Center staff have shown their dedication these past few months in preparing for their long awaited reopening. On May 3rd, the Senior Center will open to members and has safe and fun programming planned that adhere to current Covid guidelines. The Senior Center Director and Emergency Management Director have developed a comprehensive and fluid reopening plan that implements the necessary health and safety protocols to keep our seniors protected.
The Public Works Department has finalized their road plan for the remainder of this fiscal year and for fiscal year 2022. A more detailed schedule with the roadwork dates will be coming soon so residents can be aware and prepare for the crews in their area.
On Saturday April 17, I participated in the Grand Opening of Choice Pet Store in the Southbury Plaza. I want to thank our Economic Development Director, members of the Economic Development Commission and the Southbury Business Association for coming out and welcoming the new business. We are excited about the multiple new businesses coming to Southbury and the positive impact it has on our community.