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First Selectman's Update

Posted on
November 20, 2019
First Selectman's Office

For all of you that came to our Town Meeting on November 13,2019, thank you.  The item that obviously generated most of the interest was the potential sale of the town water works.  While the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance support the sale of this government function for many reasons which are listed below, we know that it is of concern to the users of the system.  Mike Crawford, representing Aquarion, the potential purchaser, outlined the process of the sale, the timing, the PURA (Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority) process and the addition, in a year or two, of a low percentage chlorination system.  Over a period of an hour or so, he answered questions about the system and why Aquarion is a good choice for us.  My compliments to the attendees who asked very good questions about this.  Currently, Aquarion is offering $345,000 for the system which will leave the General Fund about $130,000 or more greater after we pay off the remaining long term debt of the water works which was taken out originally for the tanks located on Beebe Hill Road.  This debt is guaranteed by the Town of Canaan.

No vote was taken at the meeting as there is no agreement to vote on.  We have signed a non-binding Letter of Intent and will now negotiate the details of the sale.  After this is done, we have to get PURA approval which will entail more negotiations between the town, Aquarion and PURA.  Should all this go well, we anticipate we might have the ability to proceed with a town meeting to allow the sale sometime in late June.  However, in our analyses, we think that a sale might not happen until the August/October time frame.  We will keep you posted on developments as they occur.  

As an aside, the Town of Canaan owes a great debt of gratitude towards the people who have been ably running the water works for us over the years.  They have done a great job but the regulatory burdens and risks of future problems pose an obligation that is becoming overwhelming.  The Board of Selectmen outlined the reasons for selling now as follows:

  1. Increasing Regulatory Requirements
  2. The high rates necessitated by the low number of customers.
  3. Lack of an adequate reserve that will require future increases in rates of approximately 10%.
  4. The issue of contingent liability which could overwhelm our town finances.
  5. Getting the water works as a tax paying entity which it would be if sold.
  6. Freeing up the town crew which does most of the repairs to the system.

Moving these responsibilities to a large entity solves these issues.

The Town of Canaan did get approval of the teacher’s contract for Kellogg School and for the additional cost of removing the oil tank and, separately, the purchase and burying of the propane tanks in the whole left behind by the oil tanks.  Note that the school is now primarily heated by propane.

In other news, you might have seen the helicopter moving above the high-tension wires owned by Eversource.  The purpose is to put fiber-optic cable on these towers to give Eversource enhanced communication capabilities that will benefit us in a more expeditious discovery of electrical outages and thus their repair.

Our town, through the munificence of private donors, is sponsoring a competition among townspeople for the holiday season which we are calling The Festival of Wreaths.  Last year, we updated the town decoration and will be adding some small touches this year to make our village even more attractive during the holiday season.  The Festival of Wreaths will give out $50 prizes for the following:           

  1. Most Attractive
  2. Most Creative
  3. Best Done by Under 17 Years of Age

There are classes available for those who want to learn how to make a wreath for a small charge.  We thought that this would just be a fun event that would get our village into the spirit of the holidays and plan on making this an annual affair. So get your creative juices flowing.  Details are on the circulars around town or you can e-mail for further information.  Entries are due by midnight on December11th and winners will be announced in this blog on December 14th.