This is a busy time of year for all towns and cities across the state as we are preparing budgets for the upcoming year. While it sounds simple, it isn’t. Given the fluctuations and vagaries of the state government funding, we often do this with a great deal of uncertainty. This year is no different. We are notified by one state agency that our education funding will be even with next year while the governor, in his proposed budget, cites a lower number. There is seemingly agreement between the Governor and the Legislature on Town Road Aid, which is one of the highest allotments promised by the state to towns and cities.
One idea proposed by Malloy originally is that the towns and cities contribute to the deficit in the pension funds for educators and Ned Lamont has also proposed that we pay 25% of the shortfall on an annual basis. In my view, this is just one way to transfer the costs of gross mismanagement of these funds by the state to individual property owners since the only way we have to offset these costs is to raise property taxes. Given that there was a firm promise made in the campaign to lower the property tax burden on homeowners, I find this particularly upsetting. Legislative action can prevent this.
Finally, there is a move afoot to have a uniform car tax, collected by municipalities but paid to the state. Again, that would put an additional burden on homeowners. Supposedly, the money collected would be transferred back to the towns in the form of grants but we have a history of how that goes. And for towns it goes badly.
We all know that the state needs to put its fiscal house in order. However, I personally believe that doing so on the backs of property owners is regretful and unfair.
Let’s go on to happier things, like our village. To begin, we have created an Economic Development Committee whose principal starting purpose is to create businesses in the town center. Bunny Williams has undertaken the start of this by completely renovating the old car garage/town market building. However, to make this community prosper, we cannot rely on one new business to do it. We need several well-functioning businesses to draw people to our town center. We have also hired a Director of Economic Development for Falls Village, who will be paid out of the previously budgeted Economic Development line in our town budget. Most of this budget expenditure this year was spent on our new website which is a distinct improvement on our old one. Also, the design gives us the ability to continue to improve and change the website over time to keep the content fresh and entertaining.
The Recreation Commission is looking to hire a new Director. This has been vacant for almost a year. You can get a description of the duties and responsibilities outlined for the job by contacting Town Hall or the Recreation Commission directly. This is an important role in the town and we hope to get some good response to our job listing.
At the last Town Meeting, we approved the repeal of the ordinance that established a Water Commission, effectively therefore bringing the waterworks under direct control of the Board of Selectmen. With the able assistance of Pat Mechare, who was the Chairman of that commission, we have put together a formal charge of the duties of the Waterworks Committee and believe that this will be a seamless change. This was approved at our last Board of Selectmen meeting.
On Sunday June 23, 2019, Falls Village will host a Discover Connecticut Bicycle Tour. Details concerning the event will be distributed at a later date but it has several different routes for novice, intermediate and advanced riders (or walkers). We anticipate a few hundred riders will participate including one of our own Selectmen, Greg Marlowe.
MIRA has informed us that there increase in fees will not be as steep as they had planned. They will increase our fees for the last quarter of the year by $9.65 per ton and an additional $1.35 per ton for next year, for a total increase amounting to $11 per ton for fiscal year 2019-20. While no one wants to see an increase, this is a lot better result for our town.
Over the next couple of months, we are going to be collecting e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers that can be used for several purposes, such as noting when new blog posts are made (least important probably), for uses in emergency notifications (most important) and for those who want to be notified of certain meetings. As we move to a world dominated by the internet and the cell phone, we want to be able to better communicate with our residents.