BOROUGH OF NEWTOWN
Minutes of the meeting of the Borough of Newtown Board of Burgesses on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at Town Hall South, Newtown. Warden James Gaston called the meeting to order at 7:45 p.m.
Present: Warden James Gaston, Senior Burgess Joan Crick, Second Senior Burgess Jay
Maher, Zoning Officer Jean St. Jean, Treasurer and Burgess Marie Walker, Tax
Collector Jodie Enriquez, Burgess Betsy Kenyon, Burgess Anthony Baiad, Clerk
and Burgess Darlene Spencer
Also Present: Borough Auditor, Glenn Nanavaty
Senior Burgess Crick made a motion to accept the December 8, 2009 meeting minutes, seconded by Burgess Walker and unanimously approved.
Public Participation: Dan Shea of 44 Queen Street stated that he has lived in Newtown for 42 years. He is concerned about the excessive speed and volume of traffic on not only Queen Street, but many other roads in town. He is especially concerned about the way the vehicular traffic has deteriorated the quality of life in the Borough with all major roads converging in one spot and everyone speeding. Mr. Shea said that he has been to many meetings in town regarding the traffic, but he feels that the meetings never produce any solutions. Mr. Shea said that he spoke to First Selectman Pat Llodra and she suggested that he speak to the Burgesses. He then distributed copies to the Burgesses of a letter he wrote to the First Selectman. In it he addressed his personal experiences with speeding traffic on Queen Street, as well as those of other residents. Also, in the letter, are a few suggestions to alleviate traffic and speeding.
Warden Gaston said that the traffic is not just from Newtown residents, but from all the other surrounding towns that use our roads. He indicated that the number of police officers has increased from 35 in 2002 to approximately 47. The amount of residents in Newtown has increased by 2,000 since that time.
Mr. Shea said that Wasserman Way was supposed to have a calming effect on Newtown. He feels that Wasserman Way didn’t help Queen Street as many vehicles use Queen Street as a short cut to and from Wasserman Way.
Warden Gaston said that the Newtown Police Department and not the Borough has control over the roads. He stated that the Burgesses are currently involved in trying to install sidewalks on Queen Street and explained what has progressed so far in that endeavor.
Mr. Shea indicated that he doesn’t think that sidewalks are safe enough and that walking on a sidewalk next to Queen Street would be like walking near a highway. He is in favor of speed bumps. Discussion followed.
Mr. Shea expressed hope that the Burgesses will continue the discussion about traffic and speeders in the Borough and will come up with some suggestions/solutions to alleviate it.
Audit: Borough Auditor Glenn Nanavaty distributed copies of the Borough of Newtown Audited Financial Statement with Report of Independent Certified Public Accountants Year Ended June 30, 2009. He stated that the audit was completed on January 6, 2010 and that everything is in very good order. The accounting principles used are described in the detailed financial statements under note 1. Glenn said that there were no significant changes from the prior year and there were no difficulties encountered in performing the audit.
Glenn prepared a summary of the audited financial statements with page references and reviewed them with the Burgesses. Total tax properties and revenues were shown to be down in a comparison with the past two years. Total expenditures (including sidewalks) are up from the prior two years. The Burgesses planned use of fund balance to subsidize the budget helps to keep the mill rate low.
Glenn commended the Borough for staying within 3-4% in outstanding taxes collected. Despite the Borough’s small size it does a very good job with good checks and balances that he encouraged the Burgesses to continue as well as the review of budget vs. actual results.
Warden Gaston noticed while looking through the audit report in 2004, 2005 that the Borough was low on reserves to which it was the auditor’s recommendation that we increase those reserves comparative to our annual budget because we do not have bonding abilities. The Borough restored the reserve, but is now using it with respect to projects, etc. He asked Glenn if an approximately $200,000 budget is where the Borough wants to be.
Glenn said that it is a good place to be without knowing what the Borough’s future plans are. If the Borough were to continue to set aside $30,000 to $40,000 toward future budgets, it would be used up quickly. It depends upon the Borough’s future plans, expenses such as sidewalks, capital expenditures, etc. If the Borough’s budget goes from $200,000 down to the $150,000 level and it isn’t using a large amount of surplus, then the Borough is at a reasonable place.
Warden Gaston asked Glenn that if the Borough were to continue with the sidewalk projects and/or other capital expenditures, then the Borough should be concerned with the limited reserves that we have. When planning for next year’s budget, the Borough should think about projects that we are going to do and the continual taking from the reserves to finance them.
Glenn agreed and said that the Borough needs to manage what it is going to put into the budget for capital improvements such as sidewalks as well as how much it is going to subsidize to keep the mill rate down.
Senior Burgess Crick stated that several years ago the water company raised their rates and the Borough had a tough time paying the expense. Electric rate hikes have to be planned for as well. They are two of our largest expenses.
Glenn will send a copy of the completed financial statements to the State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management.
Burgess Baiad made a motion to accept the Borough of Newtown Audited Financial Statement Year Ended June 30, 2009, seconded by Senior Burgess Crick and unanimously approved.
George Schmidt of 14 Old Castle Drive asked if the Board intends to adopt the suggestion that it publish the actuals year to date with the current budget.
Warden Gaston stated that the Burgesses have not voted on that, but will take it into consideration.
Discussion was held with Borough Auditor, Glenn Nanavaty, concerning the IRS compliance review.
Warden’s Report: Warden Gaston reported that on January 7th, he, Senior Burgess Crick, and Zoning Officer St. Jean met with the Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers and the members of the Art and Cultural Commission, as well as certain members of the Legislative Council and First Selectman Pat Llodra. It was a constructive meeting about what is going to happen with the Edmond Town Hall. The consensus seems to be that people want an art and cultural center, but there is work that needs to be done. Discussion followed. There was a walk-thru held January 9th and the next meeting is scheduled for January 21st.
Senior Burgess Crick gave an update regarding the Mary Hawley Society. They are planning a fundraiser soon.
Tree Warden: Tree Warden, Rob McCulloch, reported that he is still waiting to hear from the Town concerning one last tree. Rob asked the Burgesses if there was any money available for the pruning of Main Street trees. He estimated that the cost would be approximately $20,000. Discussion followed.
Burgess Baiad suggested doing the pruning on one side of Main Street in late June and then the other side of Main Street in early July.
It was decided that Rob will put the project out to bid.
Tax Collector's Report: Tax Collector Enriquez reported the following for the month of January: Total Taxes Due for the List of 2008: $159,253.03. Current Taxes $163,521.22; Back Taxes $1,184.53; Interest $690.83; Lien Fees $72.00; Return of Overpayments ($11,478.74). Total Submitted to Treasurer to Date $153,000.00. Current Taxes Collected 95.5%.
Additionally, Tax Collector Enriquez reported that the Grand List should be finalized by the end of January and there should be some budget information available at that time for use in the preparation of next fiscal year’s budget.
Discussion followed regarding outstanding back taxes.
Burgess Kenyon made a motion to accept the Tax Collector’s Report, seconded by Burgess Walker and unanimously approved.
Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer Walker reported the following: A deposit of $2,500.00 was made from Tax Collector Enriquez making a total of $153,000.00 as of January 12, 2010. A transfer of $44,000.00 was made to cover this month’s invoicing leaving a total of $289,514.39 as of January 12, 2010. Capital Reserve is $1,887.93 as of December 31, 2009.
Burgess Walker made a motion to transfer $200.00 from Contingency to Data Processing to cover a December invoice, seconded by Senior Burgess Crick and unanimously approved.
Burgess Walker made a motion to transfer $250.00 from Contingency to Audit, seconded by Senior Burgess Crick and unanimously approved.
Burgess Kenyon made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report, seconded by Burgess Baiad and unanimously approved.
Zoning Officer’s Report: Zoning Officer St. Jean updated the Burgesses regarding the stop light at My Place and Big Y. She led discussion regarding the Queen Street traffic and the numerous Police Commission meetings. She reported that the space next to Ace Hardware is close to having two tenants. Toro Restaurant is coming before the Borough Zoning Commission regarding their proposed hibachi area. A developer is interested in Church Hill Road. Discussion followed.
Historic District: Burgess Kenyon reported that there have been no new applications. She indicated that Burgess Maher is working on getting approval from the State for the “Entering/Leaving the Borough of Newtown” signs.
Burgess Maher and Burgess Kenyon proceeded to confirm the exact areas in the Borough where the signs will be placed.
Sidewalks: Burgess Maher stated that in connection with the discussion last month regarding the Queen Street sidewalks, he measured from the top of Glover Avenue down to the crosswalk at Meadow Road. It is 568 linear feet and it will cost approximately $30,000 to install sidewalk there. In addition there are six large trees that would probably have to be removed.
Warden Gaston asked about the price of asphalt.
Burgess Maher said that it would probably be 30% less with a 10 year life at the most. Discussion followed.
Streets & Parks: Nothing new to report.
Old Business: Senior Burgess Crick led discussion about the need for alternates to fill vacancies on the Borough Zoning Commission and Borough Zoning Board of Appeals.
New Business: None
Public Participation: none
The next regular meeting of the Borough of Newtown Board of Burgesses will be held on Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. in the Borough Office at Town Hall South.
There being no further business, Burgess Walker made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:30 p.m., seconded by Burgess Spencer and unanimously approved.
Darlene M. Spencer